Hope springs eternal that America’s #3 automaker will someday get serious about EVs, or at least bring a hybrid to market. A couple of media outlets seized on a Chrysler exec’s comment in a recent interview as evidence that the company plans to jump on the electric bandwagon.
The Detroit Free Press recently published an interview with Mike Duhaime, who was the chief engineer for the Chevrolet Volt’s powertrain, and is now Chrysler’s global director of electrified propulsion and engineering (which sounds a bit like being president of the Florida snow-skiing club).
The Freep and others seem to believe that some of Duhaime’s comments indicate an electrifying epiphany, perhaps inspired by the unexpected success of the new Fiat 500e. Before breaking out the Champagne however, note that the interview contains only a few brief and noncommittal mentions of EVs. Here is what he said:
“[From] my point of view, the 500e is just the first step. There will be additional electric vehicles at various degrees of electrification – all the way from battery electric down to [stop-start]. We started with the 500e. As we look forward, there have to be additional vehicles coming at some point. We will announce those when the time is right.”
Earlier this year, Chrysler introduced stop-start technology as an option on the Ram 1500 pickup. The company’s 2011 annual report mentioned plans to include start-stop in 90% of its fleet by 2017, but Duhaime told the Free Press that that figure was probably too high.
John Voelcker of Green Car Reports observed that the Duhaime interview included not a word about any hybrid models. In January 2011, CEO Sergio Marchionne promised a hybrid sedan and minivan, both expected to go on sale in the 2013 or 2014 model year. Neither has been heard of since, according to Voelcker.