Chrysler CEO: Rush to EVs ‘will be masochism in the extreme,’ pushes for natural gas options

Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio MarchionneIt shouldn’t come as any surprise now why we seldom hear of any big plans for developing electric vehicles at Chrysler.

Despite launching the new 2014 Fiat 500e electric car, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne still insists that the technology isn’t a sound business strategy.

According to Detroit News, Marchionne told attendees at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2013 World Congress that the company is losing $10,000 on every Fiat 500e sold.

“Regulators are rushing precipitously toward embracing (electric vehicles) as the only solution,” he said during a speech at the Society of Automotive Engineers 2013 World Congress at Cobo Center, reported the Detroit News. “Doing that on a large scale will be masochism in the extreme.”

However, Marchionne believes it’s important for carmakers to work to reduce emissions. “We must try to project ourselves into the future, taken account of the consequences of our own individual actions,” he said, as reported by Detroit News.

The Chrysler CEO said natural gas is the “cleanest alternative available” and that governments should remain “technology neutral” when it comes to alternative vehicle power sources.

Fiat-500eFiat General Manager Stefano Re Fiorentin told one news source that whereas a hybrid costs about $9,000 more than a conventional gas powered vehicle and a battery-electric car roughly $21,000 more, a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) car will only cost about $ 4,000 more.  

Still, the Chrysler Group’s position on alternative powered vehicles could present some interesting challenges for the carmaker with the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Just last week, the board’s head, Mary Nichols, told SAE attendees that the group has no plans on backing down on requirements for carmakers to sell a certain percentage of zero-emission vehicles in California on top of a new federal rule that will require all 2025 model-year vehicles sold in the U.S. to have an average of 54.5 mpg.

By 2025, the California emissions rule will require that one in seven vehicles sold in the state or 15.4 percent consist of plug-in hybrids, battery electric cars or fuel-cell vehicles.

The new requirements will not include natural gas vehicles, which begs the question – is Chrysler simply fighting the inevitable?