Chrysler Will Reluctantly Build Hybrids, CEO Says
Fiat-Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne says he’s still not positively disposed toward hybrids, but the company will be forced to begin producing them to meet 2025 emission mandates.
“I have no other way of getting to 2025 [CAFE] numbers than by going to hybrids,” he told Automotive News of sales to the North American market.
What’s wrong with hybrids in Marchionne’s estimation? They’re relatively expensive to produce and he said he is skeptical whether they would not only sell in low volume, so it would be a losing proposition.
Chrysler has been content to let other automakers take the lead with hybrids but the company will have a hybrid version of the Chrysler 300 for 2013.
As previously reported, the Obama administration is well underway toward increasing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements for cars and light trucks sold in North America.
Assuming tentative rules are finalized, they would jump from a nominal “35.5” mpg in 2016 to “54.4” mpg in 2025.
This 54.4 figure is calculated by the federal government and another branch of the same government, the Environmental Protection Agency, would actually calculate”54.4 mpg” to around 40 mpg on vehicle window stickers.
In any event, it will be the largest increase since the government began mandating CAFE in 1970.
To get its across-the-board pollution output down, Chrysler will also begin offering clean-diesel powered vehicles, including a 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and afterwards Chrysler Group will offer a diesel version of most of its large vehicles to North America.
Actually, for its European exports, the company is already on board with diesel. Most Euro-market Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models exported from the United States are diesel powered, but these are not sold here.
Chrysler’s global diesel push is part of a five-year plan which began November 2009 and stated its percentage of diesel sales would increase from 8 percent in 2009 to 14 percent in 2014.
And beyond hybrids, possible BEVs, and diesels, Marchionne said meeting the CAFE target could require more technologies including compressed natural gas CNG).
Making available a significant number of vehicles powered by CNG would also improve the company-wide emission numbers, but Marchionne expressed concern here as well even though its parent company, Fiat S.p.A. leads European CNG sales.
“The likelihood of that happening is uncertain,” Marchionne said, “but I’m still hopeful that at least a sizable portion of the U.S. market will develop CNG capability. And we are ready.”
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