Today, natural gas is a rational alternative to gasoline that can provide a near-term environmental solution on the road to vehicle electrification. It is the most effective solution, in terms of costs and timing, to lessen this country’s reliance on oil
Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne tells the Detroit News that despite not having an electric vehicles in the works until 2012 (can you believe ENVI was just vapor), Chrysler can sell environmentally-friendly vehicles sooner than that. After all, Fiat sells a grip of natural gas-powered vehicles in Europe (130,000 last year), offering the alt-energy drivetrain on nearly every model. Of course, there’s a hitch. Or three.
Fiat’s European natural gas offerings are entirely the product of hefty subsidies, and in order to roll out the technology stateside, Chrysler’s going to need more government help. Go figure. And not just for consumer incentives (which have since ravaged the Italian market in particular), but in subsidized infrastructure. You know, like the kind of infrastructure that the US government is already subsidizing for electric cars. Sorry Chrysler, I like natural gas as much as the next windbag, but spending more government cash on an interim technology while numerous EV projects and subsidies are already underway just doesn’t make a ton of sense. Unless, as is the case in Italy, the entire program is designed to specifically help a domestic automaker… but then, Chrysler’s already had its bailout.