Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne has once again reiterated his lack of belief in electric cars as the future.
At least, that’s the takeaway from a conversation he had over lunch with CAR Magazine.
For example, he was asked whether Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) could mimic the success Tesla has had in creating a following around its electric vehicles.
“Welcome to the world of icons!” Marchionne said in the interview. “I don’t make iPhones. I make cars. Why don’t I make the iPhone of cars? Because if it looks and smells like Tesla, I don’t know how to make that economic model work. There is nothing Tesla [does] that we cannot also do. We build cars, sell them and are still able to pay the bills. But I’m not even sure you can recover all of your costs – let alone generate a profit – through electrification. The answer is bound to be somewhere else, and the question is whether we are doing enough to try to explore that somewhere else.”
Nor does Marchionne think the end is in sight for the internal-combustion engine, although he does concede its importance will wane.
“Although the relevance of combustion will decrease, it will still be an important driver of mobility,” he said. “Electrification may be the next big thing, but I’m amazed by the impact of Tesla’s new Model 3. With 300,000 orders in hand, their stock is up – again. It reminds me of the internet bubble. But where is the business model that will work in the long term? People should realize that there is nothing another company cannot replicate.”
Marchionne comes across as more bullish on the future of autonomous vehicles.
“This industry is at a crossroads,” he told CAR. “I don’t think any of us has an idea as to what the right answer is. To me, the biggest issue is the impact technology has on what we are doing. Like the formation of a driverless environment, which is a mandatory future option and not even expensive. Products will go through a cycle of becoming either technologically obsolete or technologically relevant. The car already recognizes who you are, it’s one of the main interfaces between the world that you are in and the world beyond. All this stuff is here to stay, it is going to be available at the speed of light, so we must act like a flash.”
Marchionne may not believe in an EV future, but the impending arrivals of the Model 3, the Chevrolet Bolt, and other future models show that other automakers may not feel the same.