QOTD: Ready to Throw a Shade of Green on Fiat Chrysler?
Yesterday brought two snippets of news concerning your tax dollars and lovers of virtuous cars. The first being an across-the-board price drop at Tesla aimed at countering the company’s reduced EV tax credit; the second, General Motors’ confirmation that time’s running out for the $7,500 bounty on its own vehicles.
Nissan’s next in line to cross the 200,000 vehicles threshold marking the beginning of the credit phaseout, followed by Ford and probably Toyota. Notice there’s no mention of Fiat Chrysler here. As of November, sales of qualifying vehicles at FCA amounted to just over 37,000 — meaning the brash automaker will likely enjoy government incentivization long after its rivals resort to limited manufacturer perks to stoke sales. $7,500 to serve as a big green bow placed atop any vehicle FCA dreams up.
And herein lies your job.
We’re not here to talk about the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid — the automaker’s only legit mainstream electrified vehicle, nor the much-loathed Fiat 500e, so hated by late CEO Sergio Marchionne that the boss went out of his way to tell people not to buy it. Even the strongly rumored Chrysler Portal, an all-electric minivan or crossover built on the Pacifica platform, isn’t of interest here. No, your job is to envision what Chrysler could do with electrification.
If Mike Manley suddenly left Auburn Hills for an obscure Silicon Valley mobility startup, leaving you in the driver’s seat, what vehicle or vehicles would you want FCA designers to get to work on?
Last night, Adam Tonge jokingly suggested FCA’s pile of tax credits would best be kept in reserve until battery costs decline, allowing the company to offer the 2,000 lb-ft Ram Power Wagon Transformer at a bargain price. My thoughts fell along these lines, too. Performance applications. Big trucks with a green side, built to take on Ford. Maybe a 2021 Dodge Challenger or Charger, now riding a modified LX platform, with a bit of available battery assist to keep the archaic brutes viable in our clean, ultra-regulated future. There’s already a Jeep Wrangler PHEV in the works; why not a plug-in muscle car offering drivers a choice between Hemi and halo?
While it’s still unclear whether Waymo plans to make use of the tax credits offered on the 62,000 or so Pacifica Hybrids it plans to purchase from FCA — a move that would seriously restrict the number of full-sized incentives available to normal buyers — the company won’t run out tomorrow. What are your thoughts on where FCA’s green dollars should go?
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
Lorenzo on Jan 04, 2019
FCA should continue to do what they've been doing: offer a token hybrid and concentrate on ICE cars and trucks. That's what most Americans need to travel cheaply over long distances. Electric cars have their uses, but mostly in dense cities, where electrifying mass transit makes more sense. People who can't afford a car in those cities can use other car rental services when they need more than mass transit. FCA has been smart to leave the huge investments to its competitors while using its resources to create more Jeep models and update its halo RWD cars. The government credits for electrics can be taken away in an eyeblink by politicians, so investing heavily in electrics for that reason would be foolhardy.
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