Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is not very enthusiastic about electric cars. When the limited-market Fiat 500e was launched a few years ago, CEO Sergio Marchionne complained that FCA lost money on every one sold, and that the car was only built to satisfy California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate. Marchionne hasn’t changed his view since then.
Or has he? FCA may unveil an all-electric version of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan at CES 2017 in January, according to a Bloomberg report. That report was attributed to anonymous sources familiar with FCA’s CES plans, who also said the company is working on an “electric Maserati sports car” that would target Tesla.
FCA already sells the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid plug-in hybrid model, but an all-electric version could be its first mass-market electric vehicle. The current Fiat 500e is only sold in California and Oregon, and FCA has no other electrified vehicles in its lineup at the moment. Marchionne has discussed adding hybrids to the lineup as a way to meet stricter upcoming fuel economy standards.
It’s also possible that the Chrysler Pacifica variant debuting at CES will have something to do with FCA’s current partnership with Google. In May, the two companies announced plans to work together on autonomous-driving tech based around a fleet of 100 Pacifica Hybrid plug-in hybrids retrofitted with Google hardware. Maybe FCA will show one of these cars at CES.
As for the electric Maserati, a recent report claimed it would be based on a production version of the well-received Alfieri concept car, due in 2019. The sports car will reportedly launch with a conventional gasoline powertrain, and then get an electric option further down the road.
FCA has paid relatively little attention to electric cars so far, and focusing on niche models like a minivan and sports car is a somewhat unusual way to make up ground. Perhaps we’ll learn more about the company’s electric-car plans at CES in January.
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