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.”

Automotive News (subscription required).


  • Capt. Concernicus

    Chyrsler is reluctant? Is this the same company that went bankrupt and accepted billions of dollars in bailout money from the U.S. gov’t/taxpayers because they couldn’t remain competitive while producing gas guzzling vehicles? Sounds like Chrysler management really hasn’t learned a darn thing. They continue to build overweight, high horsepower, gas guzzling vehicles.

    They’re too expensive? Maybe the intitial investment is. Maybe Chrysler can license technology from Toyota, Ford, Hyundai, Honda or some other company. Honda Insight costs about $19k a Prius costs about $23k. Not really expensive for a car considering Chrysler is willing to build and sell their SRT-8′s for $45k+ a piece.

    Chrysler hasn’t learned a thing. The next time they file for bankruptcy (and they will) I hope there is no bailout money for them.

  • Paul from Oz

    I think you may have missed the point Chrysler were making; Hybrid is a SHORT-TERM Solution, which is expensive, ruins luggage space and doesn’t last. Fiat, (Chrysler’s Parent Company), is already well advanced with CNG Technology, which Chrysler see as a more Long-Term Solution. I’m in Australia, over here Hybrid’s don’t sell, they have a terrible reputation on the “Used-Car Market”, as a result, their resale is woeful. Maybe Chrysler have done their research outside the U.S. and see Hybrid’s a s a waste of Money that they don’t have.

  • Anonymous

    “expensive, ruins luggage space and doesn’t last.”

    yup, that’s what prius is, not. chyrsler is starting to sound like a spoiled whining child that wants their bailout money and eat it too.

  • mirco italy

    It’s a shame against the planet (support ENI w.w.2°nd Oil co.) The beavior of the CANADIAN Marchionne, a head hunter of very normal people. Unbelivable that EPA of WAV do not obligate FIAT CHRAISLER to make this very efficent fuel saving solution:
    http://www.epa.gov/otaq/technology/420f11002.pdf
    http://www.epa.gov/osp/ftta/hybrid.htm
    Best is hydroo elettric, hydro for reactivity in a brake regen, low capacity; and battery hi capacity low reactivity…CIAO 99%

  • Capt. Concernicus

    @ Paul,

    No, I would think that I’m right on the point.

    For example the Prius has been making its way into NYC (15% of NYC taxis are hybrids) and other cities taxi fleets. That’s a HUGE boost in confidence about its ability, low price poiint, fuel efficiency, cargo capacity, quality and endurance because taxi cab vehicles need to be able to “take a licking and keep on ticking”. And the Prius is proving quite capable in doing so.

    And from the looks of it, it looks like price has been more the issue with slower hybrid sales in Australia, not quality or fuel economy. The Prius seems to have been priced higher than it should have been, but now Toyota has lowered its price by a substantial amount to be more competitive with Honda.

  • Eric

    Another reason I wouldn’t spend a dime on an Chrysler vehicle.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    $5 gas in the states will change their view on hybrids but it will be too late to quickly produce them to capitalize on it…..

    MrEnergyCzar

  • cld

    Paul,

    Not to pile on, but I think your opinion (which I have found to be not uncommon amongst Australians) is based more on typical hybrid myth than fact. Not to spend too much time reiterating what the Captain has said, but the Prius has been selling in the states for over a decade and has proven to be rugged, reliable, enduring (http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1023454_toyota-prius-taxi-tops-340000mi-dispels-battery-myth), and quite popular. The European/Australian antipathy towards hybrids seems to be an NIH (not invented here) phenomenon more than a true statement of the comparative qualities of hybrids vs. diesels. While Australians complain about the high price of hybrids, Americans could not buy diesels for a long time because the auto manufacturers found them too expensive to build in a way that would meet American air-quality laws (although that’s changing now). If hybrids don’t meet Australian’s needs then fine, stick with diesels. But hybrids have proven to be a good ‘long-term’ solution for the American market.

    By the way, do you guys not recycle batteries in Oz? I’m just curious, because everyone I’ve talked to from down under seems to think we just throw them away up here when we’re done with them.

  • simon@syd

    There isn’t much recycling of batteries here in Oz. We’re primitives. Actually I’m not aware of any recycling at all. I think the guy was just saying that hybrids are too much here. And they are.

  • pen drive recovery

    Hello, will you please provide some information about its interior, I will look further to figure out information about this…

  • Mike_

    Actually, Hybrids are not a short term solution; they have been with us 15 years now, and are still more viable then pure electic vehicles. My Prius has equal cargo carrying capacity to your beloved Chrysler 300, and in fact cargo capacity is only slightly reduced in existing vehicles adapted to hybrid powertrains – definitely not “ruined”. Further CR ran tests on a decade-old Prius last year and found that the battery was unaffected by 10 years of use and the car’s fuel economy was unchanged. So much for “doesn’t last”. Also, a hybrid’s gas engine works less often than a conventional car, so a Prius with 100,000 kilometers on it might only have 70,000 or so on the engine. CNG won’t go anywhere – diesels will make sure of that. Long term, hybrids and diesels are with us for the forseeable future, until battery pack technology reaches the point where it can provide 1,000 km trips and quick recharges – we’re still a VERY long way from that.

    Chrysler’s “research” indicates perfectly why they are a company with no future; they are still locked into their coporate vision of continuing to sell low quality, fuel-guzzling, machismo-inducing products to a clientele that buys first and asks questions later. No one who has ever done diligent research has ever bought a Chrysler, and that’s exactly the type of buyer the company counts on to sustain them.

  • Dom

    “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.”

    That is what they need to be doing across the board. Fiat already has engines for small cars, and as the article points out, they already export diesel versions of a lot of models we are familiar with to Europe. Let me explain the duh factor here…

    And I really hope “large vehicles” includes the entire Jeep lineup. Imagine a diesel Jeep anything with a manual transmission… sweet!!