While several auto companies including Nissan, General Motors and Tesla are making inroads in the electric vehicle market, one auto giant has come out and said it is not ready to jump on the EV bandwagon until the pricing issue improves.
Bob Lee, head of Chrysler global Powertrain and Fiat said the companies will not begin investing in electric powertrains until if and when consumers are willing to step up and pay for the technology and the market decides the technology is ready for everyday use.
Rather than direct its resources into electric technology, Lee said Chrysler and Fiat will be broadening their North American lineup of vehicles with a greater number of diesels and downsized, turbocharged gas engines.
The statements were made at the 2013 CAR Management Briefing’s Advanced Powertrain Forum where Lee was speaking. He went onto say that it is apparent from current sales figures that while drivers may be interested in global warming they are not interested in purchasing hybrid and other electric vehicles enough that they are willing to pay the high cost of the battery packs, electric motors and chargers.
“Many customers want to reduce C02, but they aren’t willing to change their lifestyle or pay the cost — yet,” he said. That might not happen for another decade, he said.
New federal regulations are requiring all automakers to increase the average fuel economy of their fleets in order to combat the perceived threat of global warming. For Chrysler, the best way to improve its fuel economy standards to meet the government goals is to build diesels and smaller, more powerful turbocharged engines. Currently Chrysler and Fiat do not have a hybrid model as part of their fleet lineup and the only electrified vehicle they produce, the Fiat 500e is only sold in California where it sells for the same price as a gas powered Fiat 500.
While many assume diesel engines are huge polluters because they see huge clouds of black smoke bellowing out of a diesel vehicle’s exhaust system, the reality is diesel engines are actually cleaner than their gasoline counterparts and oftentimes are far more reliable. When Fiat took over Chrysler, the company brought to the table a huge array of diesel engines it has already been using throughout the world in a variety of Fiat brands sold globally around the world.
Lee said in addition to rolling out more diesel engines the companies will continue to work at making them more efficient by redesigning and improving energy efficient parts of their cars.