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.

The all-new 2014 Fiat 500e doesn’t just offer continuing the city-friendly proportions and iconic Cinquecento design cues, it also boasts of eco-friendly electric drive, certain aerodynamic aids and retro-futuristic styled design elements.

During the development of the Fiat 500e, the prime goal of its designers and engineers was to minimize its aerodynamic drag while making sure that Cinquecento styling cues remain visible. For instance, the new Fiat 500e features a number of styling elements adopted from the Fiat 500, like the "whiskers and logo" face with bi-halogen headlamps as well as lower park and fog lamps. Underneath these elements is a two-piece front fascia with a distinctly sculpted surface that doesn’t just minimize drag but also comes with inlets that guides airflow for the 500e's electrical components.

The lower fascia of the Fiat 500e comes with lower dot-matrix pattern, a futuristic theme that was already seen when the first Cinquecento was born. Interestingly, the fascia insert is provided with projector-beam fog lamps and the "500e" logo.

Nonetheless, the Fiat 500e has a number of unique elements, like its front and rear fascias that were shaped through wind tunnels as well as exterior mirror caps and side sills. The new 500e also features an aero spoiler that is mounted on the liftgate. All these elements help reduce the vehicle’s coefficient of drag while and improving its aerodynamic performance. Meanwhile, the car’s side sills have a gradient pattern and "500e" logo seen on the front. Moreover, the two-piece rear fascia also features dot-matrix styled diffuser and "500e" logo.

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