General Motors and Ford executives will battle it out for the media spotlight at next month’s North American International Auto Show, but that doesn’t mean Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has nothing to talk about in Detroit.
There’s still a splashy reveal in the works, but FCA has chosen the earlier Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas for the unveiling. According to one report, FCA’s mystery vehicle signals a big change for the automaker.
Unnamed sources tell Bloomberg that the vehicle is a fully-electric model based on the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. “Based on” could mean a wholly new model, perhaps a crossover, that shares the Pacifica’s platform, or simply an all-electric Pacifica.
Either way, a large EV would be a major departure for FCA, as its sweater-loving CEO hasn’t exactly been the technology’s biggest cheerleader. Sergio Marchionne famously slammed his company’s money-losing electric Fiat 500e, and told the media last June that he was “not even sure you can recover all of your costs – let alone generate a profit – through electrification.”
Marchionne made that comment during a swipe at Tesla. Sitting on the technology fence has short-term benefits, but eventually a company needs to join the herd or risk being left behind. It seems even Marchionne sees which way the wind is blowing. Already, the company has taken a step towards an electrified future with a plug-in hybrid variant of the Pacifica, but GM’s 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt recently moved the goalposts.
An electric crossover or minivan would hand FCA industry bragging rights. That’s assuming, of course, that the vehicle actually makes it to production.
While the automaker hasn’t confirmed the Bloomberg report, it did hint at its truthfulness. Speaking to The Detroit News, FCA spokesman Rick Deneau said, “I think it will prove more obvious why specifically we are showing the vehicle first at CES once it’s revealed.”
[Image: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]