Fiat Chrysler Automobiles lurks at bottom of EPA fuel economy report

Article by Christian A., on October 14, 2014

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ranked last among 11 carmakers in the government's annual report on fuel economy gains. FCA lurked on the bottom of the recently published annual Fuel Economy Trends report of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The carmaker has pledged to meet stiff corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) target in the next few years, although its trucks-to-cars sales mix is around 3-to-1 and has products that have very low mpg figures. According to EPA, the average fuel economy of FCA cars and light trucks was 20.9 mpg in the 2013 model year, an improvement of 0.8 mpg from 2012.

That figure, however, is well below the average fuel economy of the US auto industry at 24.1 mpg. Preliminary data for the MY2014 vehicles indicated slight improvement for both FCA the industry and FCA. Ironically, FCA offers the most fuel-efficient pickup, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. But FCA has plans to get out of the bottom and achieve its CAFE target.

The plans entail selling more small vehicles; eight- and nine-speed transmissions; downsized gasoline engines; and diesel powerplant. FCA, however, does not have many hybrid and electric offerings on its lineup. Chrysler is currently working on a new line of sub-2.0 liter I-4 engines -- dubbed Hurricane – that would return better mpg figures than the current powerplants.

People privy with the carmaker told Automotive News that Chrysler will start offering the Hurricane engine by 2016. Chrysler is also planning to offer versions of its Pentastar V-6 engine with smaller displacements that will provide similar or even more power that the current 3.6-liter V-6.

The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was well-received, primarily because it boasts of having the best fuel economy rating on the segment at 28 mpg. Due to the high demand, EcoDiesel versions now account for 20 percent of Ram 1500 production. Likewise, Chrysler is planning to install fuel-saving eight-speed rear-wheel-drive and nine-speed front-wheel-drive transmissions into a greater number of its models.

In May 2009, a bankruptcy judge in the US approved a proposed government restructuring plan and sale of Chrysler's assets. A new company -- Chrysler Group LLC -- would acquire purchase most of the assets of Chrysler LLC. The purchase of these assets was completed in June 2009, allowing Chrysler to emerge from bankruptcy. Fiat then owned 20 percent of Chrysler.

On January 21, 2014, Fiat acquired the remaining shares of Chrysler it doesn’t own from the VEBA union trust for $3.65 billion. On January 29, 2014, Fiat announced a reorganization that would result to a merger between the two carmakers into a new holding company. Fiat and Chrysler merged into FCA on October 12, 2014 after receiving a greenlight from the board in June 2014 and from shareholders in August 2014.

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