QOTD: Ready to Throw a Shade of Green on Fiat Chrysler?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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]

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  • APaGttH APaGttH on Jan 03, 2019

    When did Terrorist Tan become a truck color thing?!?!

  • Lorenzo 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.

  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.
  • ToolGuy You make them sound like criminals.
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