By on March 24, 2015

2015 Chrysler Town & Country

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne hasn’t been too enamored with electrification, especially with the Fiat 500e, but he now has his sights set on a PHEV minivan.

Detroit Free Press reports the PHEV would be the company’s third overall attempt to market such a vehicle, following the 1993-1995 $120,000 TEVan — built on the same line in Windsor as the standard minivans — and the 1997 EPIC electric minivan with a range of 120 miles delivered by its advanced lead acid batteries. The new PHEV minivan would also be the first hybrid minivan of any sort to come to market since the hybrid category’s U.S. debut in MY 2000, and would spawn a PHEV crossover to debut in 2017.

While the PHEV would provide improved city fuel economy in its role as a family shuttle, placement of the battery pack would have to be sorted due to the automaker’s signature Stow ‘n Go seating and storage system. Pricing is another concern, especially as the next generation of FCA minivans will be a Chrysler product; Chrysler’s Town & Country has commanded higher transaction prices over the Dodge Grand Caravan.

FCA also has to present a case to hybrid consumers who wouldn’t normally consider its brands, the result of not having hybrids throughout the range, with the PHEV minivan likely cannibalizing sales from the automaker’s traditional minivan consumers.

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11 Comments on “FCA Planning Industry-First PHEV Minivan...”

  • avatar

    I have said for a while now that they should have a hybrid only TC so that the Dodge could live on its own without in house competition.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    It would be a game changer, although I can see Toyota dropping their Highlander hybrid system into the Sienna in response. And, perhaps even more interestingly, it could get Ford to put their Energi system into the Transit Connect.

    A vehicle like this is exactly what the USPS is looking for, by the way…

    • 0 avatar

      ‘Game Changer’ is exactly right. A hybrid minivan has the potential to revive the minivan market in a way almost as much as the stunning success of the inaugural 1983 Chrysler minivan and it’s simply mind-boggling that it’s taken this long for anyone to see it.

      One of the issues was likely the R&D costs, but with non-hybrid minivans rapidly approaching the $50k mark, that shouldn’t be much of a problem, anymore.

      But, even more importantly, with the exception of the Prius, hybrids really haven’t been all that phenomenal in the sales department. So laying out the astronomical development money for a hybrid minivan could easily be seen as more of a risk than a sure-thing. Kudos really need to go to Marchionne for having the cajones to give it a shot. Yeah, it’s a gamble, but if it hits, the pay-off will be huge.

  • avatar

    I’m really surprised Toyota didn’t have a hybrid Sienna years ago. If Chrysler can pull it off and keep sales momentum up it’ll be a good thing. For me, it’s hard to comprehend how thirsty minivans can be and it’s surprising that there still isn’t a hybrid van yet.

    And yes, this would be an excellent replacement for the worn out, smokey LLVs I see on a daily basis.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve wondered about a hybrid Sienna years ago too. OTOH, they were so busy printing money with regular Prius models, why bother adding the hybrid to the minivan?

      But, if FCA pulls this off and no one else bothers to enter, this would be a real feather in their cap.

  • avatar

    About as likely to happen as Alfa Romeo coming to North America with a plethora of new models based on the compact-wide extra-heavy platform. All powered by the MultiAir TigerWimp 2.4, an engine possessing a dashing portfolio of dull responses.

  • avatar

    This makes a great deal of sense, if they don’t want to lose the advantage to someone else doing it first.

    1. BYD is bringing its electric minivans to the US. If FCA could get theirs into consumer (not fleet) hands first, it would steal the Chinese thunder.

    2. When I’m parking my C-Max, parents walk up and say “a hybrid minivan? great idea…if it had three rows I’d buy one.” Ford could hybridize and federalize the Grand C-Max, but that would take time; FCA could have their entry ready sooner.

    3. Toyota could drop their hybrid powertrain into the Sienna, and with their reputation as the Prius people, dominate the niche. Better for FCA to get it done first.

    4. Kia could drop the Optima hybrid powertrain into the new Sedona, providing a new selling point for what’s already the freshest minivan. (Granted, the Optima hybrid powertrain underwhelms the critics.)

    5. Look how many FCA cargo minivans are used by USPS and UPS. Look how many Prius/Camry/Escape/C-Max hybrid taxis are in use. Consider that a FCA hybrid minivan would be clearly superior for all those jobs, and that those fleets turn over pretty quickly with all the miles they log. Good opportunity!!

    6. A battery compartment is already present: delete the Stow & Go seating option and put the battery in its well. Engineer in a better spot when designing the next generation van, sure, but don’t waste time with that issue now.

    • 0 avatar

      USPS does not turn over their fleet quickly at all. Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time in Seattle for work and the most common mail delivery vehicles are 1998 Ford Windstars. The average delivery vehicle for the postal service gets something like 20 miles per day. The LLVs haven’t been produced in something like a decade.

      I don’t see any UPS minivans in my area though I’m certain there are a few applications where they might make sense.

      • 0 avatar

        This is true, although in these parts its LLVs and Caravans vs Windstars. I’m surprised those Essex V6s are still running, the mileage seems due for head gasket failure. 365-52 (sunday)=313*20mi=6260mi/year*17years=106420mi on an MY98.

        “Because the United States Postal Service owns over 100,000 Grumman LLVs, of which the oldest are reaching the end of their lifespan, the USPS has been looking into replacing or retrofitting the LLVs. In fiscal year 2009, the USPS spent $524 million to repair its fleet of Grumman LLVs, and estimated that it would cost $4.2 billion to replace the entire fleet.[10] In some areas LLVs have been replaced with minivans,[7] which tend to be much more comfortable for postal workers, especially in extreme climates.”

        “On January 20, 2015, the USPS released solicitation RFI-NGDV for the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle. [14] Potential bidders have until March 5, 2015 to submit comments an pre-qualification responses. The USPS will then select companies to receive the RFP for prototype development. On February 13, it was announced that General Motors was actively pursuing this new contract, which would have them provide the USPS with 180,000 new vehicles at a cost of at least $5 billion”

  • avatar

    They would likely ditch “Stow-and-Go” on an electric minivan in the name of range. One nice advantage would be the nice heavy batteries where the “basement” used to be, the center of gravity should be really low.

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