Fiat Chrysler sometimes seems to be the most vocal holdout of the waning oil age. It’s about the only major automaker that offers no hybrid models, and CEO Sergio Marchionne is often depicted in the EV press as an anti-electric curmudgeon – he has stated that the company loses $10,000 on every unit of the Fiat 500e, and politely asked consumers not to buy.
However, it may be that Marchionne isn’t opposed to electrification per se, but just waiting for an application that makes economic sense for the company. And it may be that the minivan segment, which Chrysler dominates, presents a perfect opportunity to finally get charged.
Marchionne discussed electrification plans in January, saying that a “massive” program to develop a plug-in hybrid minivan was underway. Chrysler is expected to offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the new Town & Country minivan, which is likely to debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show in January.
This month, Marchionne told Automotive News (via Green Car Reports) that an electric motor might be the best way to add all-wheel-drive capability to the next-generation Town & Country. Adding a conventional AWD system wouldn’t leave room for the vehicle’s popular “Stow n’ Go” folding seats, but a compact electric motor could let off-road soccer moms have the best of both worlds.
“You have two choices: you either trade the Stow ‘n Go or you go with electric motors in the back. It’s not that complicated. We’re exploring both,” Marchionne said.
“I think electrification is coming – whether you like it or not – in some fashion,” Marchionne said, adding that the company continues to explore hybrid options for other models, including the Jeep Grand Cherokee. “We will continue to optimize our involvement in electrification by going through with the one that gives you the biggest bang for the buck.”