Chrysler-Fiat still not keen on electrified powertrain investments

Article by Anita Panait, on August 8, 2013

Chrysler and Fiat are not going to make investments in electrified powertrains until they determine that consumers are willing to accept and pay for the technology, according to Bob Lee, head of Fiat and Chrysler global Powertrain. Instead of making investments in electrified powertrains, the carmakers will broaden their North American product lineup with more diesel units and downsized turbocharged gasoline engines,

Lee remarked during the 2013 CAR Management Briefing's Advanced Powertrain Forum. Lee said that while many customers want to reduce carbon dioxide, they are not willing to “change their lifestyle or pay the cost, yet.”

He added that consumers don't value hybrids and other electrified vehicles enough to the point of being willing to pay for the added cost of battery packs, electric motors and chargers. For now, Fiat and Chrysler see diesel and turbocharged gasoline engines as the fastest ways to improve the fuel economy of its offerings.

The carmakers currently do not have a hybrid powertrain and only has one electrified offering in North America, the Fiat 500e, which is marketed only in California for the same price as a conventional Fiat 500. Fiat’s takeover of Chrysler gave the latter access to the Italian carmaker’s diesel engine lineup that are already installed in a number of Fiat brands around the world.

Chrysler is launching a new 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel in the Grand Cherokee, providing up to 240 hp of output and 420 lbs/ft of torque. The diesel engine in the Grand Cherokee boasts of an EPA rating of 22 city/30 highway for two-wheel drive models. Chrysler is also rolling out two more diesel offerings this year. Ram ProMaster cargo van could be vailed with an optional 3.0-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel engine while upcoming Ram 1500 pickup could be availed with the same 3.0-liter V-6 diesel the powers the Grand Cherokee.

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