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Fiat Chrysler Will Reluctantly Join The EV Revolution — Sort Of

Fiat Chrysler says it will have 30 models with some degree of electrification on sale by 2022, although most of them will be ordinary hybrids with all the technical sophistication of a 2005 Prius.

If Sergio Marchionne, head of Fiat Chrysler, had his way, his company would never build an electric car. He hates EVs and begs people not to buy the few electric cars his company sells. In a perfect world, FCA would build nothing but Dodge Ram pickemups and Jeeps with monster V-8 engines.

Dodge Ram diesel pickup truck from FCA

But it is not a perfect world. Regulators around the world are demanding cars and trucks with vastly decreased carbon emissions. Some countries and cities are starting to consider banning internal combustion engines altogether, which would leave FCA with nothing to sell in much of the world, especially Europe, India, and China. It’s unlikely the company could long survive retailing only large trucks and SUVs.

According to a recent announcement, the company has now decided it must invest $9 billion in building cars that have electric motors. It says it will have 30 models with some degree of electrification on the road by 2022, although the suspicion is the majority of those will be conventional hybrids, with a few plug-in hybrids and one or two battery electric cars thrown in to burnish the company’s image.

Marchionne says cars with internal combustion engines will still be found in the “vast majority” of FCA vehicles for the foreseeable future. Only the Fiat 500 family of cars will get the full PHEV or BEV treatment. Maserati has recently taken the wraps off its sinuous Alfieri electric sports coupe which will scream to 60 mph in 2 seconds flat. But it’s questionable how many ordinary commuters will sign up for one of those hypercars, which undoubtedly will be sold at hyperprices.

Maserati Alrieri electric car

The one bright spot for FCA is the US market, where the current administration is committed to taking America back to the heady days of the 1950s, when big, slow-turning V-8 engines that got 10 miles per gallon were the norm. Conservatives Reactionaries love to scream about how horrible government regulations are. Let’s see how they feel when FCA cozies up to Uncle Sugar asking for another government bailout. If the price of gasoline continues its uphill climb, sales of the big, thirsty vehicles Chrysler and Jeep specialize in could go straight into the toilet faster than Marchionne can shout, “Basta!”

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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