Marchionne Concedes Need For Chrysler HybridsBy Danny King October 24, 2011
Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne hasnt been a big fan of hybrid technology but is conceding that Chrysler will need to make hybrid vehicles in order to meet increasingly stringent U.S. fuel-economy standards. Although long wary of the higher production costs and relatively low sales volume of hybrids, Marchionne said in an interview with industry trade journal Automotive News that Chrysler will need to include more gas-electric vehicles and a progressively larger mix of diesel-powered cars and light trucks in its lineup order to reach the 54.5 mpg fuel efficiency standards expected to set for 2025. The new standards would require Chrysler to more than double its 2010 fleet fuel economy average.
Chrysler, whose 2007 bankruptcy prevented the type of vehicle-electrification investments made by U.S.-based competitors Ford and General Motors, is playing catch up with the other automakers. Chrysler achieved a fleetwide fuel economy average last year of 19.2 miles per gallon, dead last among the 14 major automakers making vehicles for the U.S. market, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Meanwhile, in late July, the U.S. government reached a deal with automakers to establish a 54.5 mile-per-gallon Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard for passenger vehicles in 2025. That would be equal to an EPA "window sticker" fuel economy rating of about 40 mpg. The standards still must be published for public comment and final approval wont come until next year, but theres little doubt about the direction in which federal fuel economy regulation is headed.
Chrysler, which plans to start selling a hybrid version of the Chrysler 300 (above) in 2013, will introduce a diesel version of its Jeep Grand Cherokee that same year and will likely expand diesel powertrain availability to most of its larger vehicles thereafter. Additionally, Chrysler has begun testing a battery-electric version of the Fiat 500. Chrysler is building the car for Fiat. It is slated to hit the market in 2012 as a 2013 model.