By on January 3, 2019

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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20 Comments on “QOTD: Ready to Throw a Shade of Green on Fiat Chrysler?...”

  • avatar

    Could FCA sell rebadged ev’s of other manufacturers and then keep the car keeps the tax credit? If Tesla’s sell at a profit at a higher volume of sales with the tax credit, would that make sense?

  • avatar

    A couple of thoughts:

    How much battery could you cram into the backseat area of a crew cab truck? Or use a single cab body with a battery pack “spacer” between the cab and the bed?

    How about Ram ProMaster vans with a false floor allowing a full layer of battery? It seems commercial delivery vans that operate within a fixed radius of a home base could be easily charged every night, and provide the reduced emissions in the places that need it most.

    Why go hybrid with the Charger/Challenger? Go full on electric with instant torque and a LightningCat™ mode (think ludicrous) to have an all electric halo muscle car. You might not sell many, but it would set the auto journals on fire.

  • avatar

    Hellcat Charger with a 250hp electric drive on the front wheels to improve off the line performance.

    The Promaster and Promaster City make sense.

  • avatar

    Any way you can game the system, screw taxpayers and grab some sweet subsidy cash is all good.

  • avatar

    Electric Maserati Tesla fighter.

  • avatar

    FCA will come along with better batteries and subsidies just when all those other guys have to try selling without subsidies.

    A PHEV CUV would be REAL nice.

    If they were really smart they’d get into cahoots with Tesla and allow charging at superchargers. Right now charging is too far between and too slow to go anywhere but around town.

  • avatar

    Electrified 300 “super brougham” interior appointments – call it Imperial.

  • avatar

    I still want to see a hybrid diesel electric power train. You see them in busses, you see them in trains.

    They should probably just throw the most powerful electric motors into a Challenger and call it a day.

  • avatar

    Having owned a 500e, I only need them to make one new EV: a 500ec. If mine had been a convertible, I would have kept it after the lease ended.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Hellcat Hybrid

  • avatar

    4 basic systems

    Ram 1500/ truck system – Large battery 15-20kWh mounted between the frame rails under the bed. powering a 200hp 300lb/tq electric motor mounted inline with the transmission with a clutch that can decouple the ICE engine. 40-50 miles of electric range plus electric boost in hybrid mode.

    Challenger/Charger/Large car/Grand Cherokee/Large SUV – Smaller 10kWh battery powering a 100hp 200lb/tq motor attached to the front wheels only. No direct connection to the ICE powering the rear wheels. Performance version can have smaller battery for reduced weight with special battery chemistry and more powerful electric motor.

    Jeep Cherokee/ Dodge Journey/ Compact to mid size crossover – An evolution of the system used in the Chrysler Pacifica tuned to deliver high torque and adequate horsepower attached to efficient turbo 3 cylinder engines for high efficiency and low cost.

    All electric system / Large Premium crossover/ Sedan – As someone mentioned, a powerful EV system for use in a premium sedan and crossover under the Imperial sub-brand.

  • avatar

    None whatsoever. The only demand for greenie mobiles is with the hug trees, eat tofu, 47 or more left wing political bumperstickers set, or the high tech is status set. NONE of that crowd is looking at muscle cars, pickups or brutish offroad vehicles. Tesla and Toyota are about the only mfgs having any measurable luck with electric cars. Leave that market to them, there just isn’t enough demand for ever mfg. And pandering to a crowd that hardcore enthusiasts REALLY don’t much care for will only hurt FCA’s anti-establishment image.

  • avatar

    Pickups and SUV/CUVs are the big sellers, but most EVs have been sleek and low cars with only a few semi-CUV offerings (e.g. Tesla X, Hyundai Kona). I can only assume that the reason for this “mistake in judgement” is because making a boxy, tall, heavy Pickup/SUV with true load and off-road capability would require a huge costly battery and still give minimal range.

  • avatar
    King of Eldorado

    Admittedly GM probably knows better than I do, but I think their discontinuing of the Volt leaves a hole in the marketplace for FCA to fill: a plug-in hybrid with, say, a 40-mile all-electric range allowing most people to use it during the week as a commuter and recharge it overnight, but still allow range-anxiety-free road trips with (almost) no compromise over a gas-only vehicle. Give it some mild CUV cred about the size and shape of a Subaru CrossTrek, price it well, and promote the heck out of it.

  • avatar

    An all electric Ram could be a good option for fleets that do a lot of in-town driving. The total cost of ownership would need to make sense vs. a gas powered truck, but there’s a lot of appeal to no maintenance, all day power for tools and equipment, and minimal charge to refuel every night. Highway driving or towing heavy would seriously degrade range, but there’s a lot of trucks out there that don’t live that life.

  • avatar

    There are so many things FCA needs more than EVs/green vehicles…

    But I’ll play the game. A LWB Chrysler Cherokee with the plain 2.0T, 2.0T full hybrid (1kWh), EV. Skip the mild hybrid & PHEV stuff, both are wastes of time and money IMO.

    As far as what FCA needs first, they need to consolidate their RWD platforms, update and lighten the Compact Wide platform, and roll out the 2.0T and rumored 3.0TT to as many applicable vehicles as possible.

  • avatar

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

  • avatar

    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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