Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has announced that it will introduce two PHEVs starting in 2016. A plug-in hybrid version of a new minivan will appear in 2016, and a full-sized crossover that has a plug-in hybrid option in 2017.
The plug-in minivan, which would be a first for the industry, will get 75 MPGe, according to Chrysler Brand President and CEO Al Gardner, who spoke at the company’s Investor Day presentation.
This being Chrysler, the company had to make it clear that even this timid and belated move is being forced on it by the government. “Electrification has been over-blown by the media,” said VP Bob Lee. “With the exception of a relatively small group of early adopters, the market continues to be primarily driven by regulatory requirements. FCA will launch a PHEV minivan in 2016 to comply with ZEV requirements. Several mild hybrid applications will come to market shortly thereafter.”
Lee acknowledged that the company purchased credits, presumably from Tesla and/or Nissan, in order to comply with California’s ZEV regulations. “For MY 2012 in the US, FCA was compliant with fuel economy requirements, but had negative credit generation due to model mix. In other words, the company purchased credits to be compliant, and will continue to do so when appropriate to provide time to understand and decision the complex business cases associated with new technologies,” Lee said.
Mr Lee did concede that consumers want fuel economy, saying that FCA’s twin drivers are regulatory compliance and developing and producing increasingly more fuel-efficient vehicles which customers want to buy.
FCA sees promise in mild hybrid technology, which it says “has the potential for broad market penetration,” but it sounds like the company is much more interested in improving the efficiency of ICEs than in electrification.
“FCA and the industry in general have made great strides in improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine. Much more progress will come as gasoline and diesel engine technologies converge. FCA will start the global roll out of a new small gasoline engine family in 2015 which incorporates these new and emerging technologies,” said Lee.