A few years back Chrysler showed off all manner of hybrid, range-extended and all-electric concepts in the hope that these vehicles would eventually see production, thus catapulting the automaker to the forefront of the electrification revolution. Unfortunately, a global economic downturn and subsequent bankruptcy meant that Chrysler’s only priority over the past couple of years was to remain viable.
Since being sold to the Fiat, Chrysler’s list of priorities are starting to diversify somewhat but unfortunately, hybrid and electric vehicles aren’t positioned very high on that list. In fact, when it comes to being green, Chrysler is scaling back its hybrid and electric vehicle plans in favor of more fuel efficient downsized engines borrowed from Fiat.
Some of the original plans Chrysler had in place were new Two-Mode hybrid versions of the Dodge Ram pickup, as well as plug-in hybrid versions of the Jeep Wrangler and Chrysler Town & Country. There were even plans for an all-electric Dodge sports car based on a borrowed Lotus platform, something that could have eventuated into a cut-priced Tesla Roadster.
Instead, Chrysler will focus on implementing fuel saving technologies developed by Fiat into its powertrain lineup. These include MultiAir valve adjustment technology, gasoline direct injection, and possibly even the greater use of compressed natural gas.
It’s not all bad news for fans of electric vehicles. Chrysler still plans to bring to market an all-electric version of its 500 minicar by 2012 and will be testing a fleet of new hybrid Ram pickups sometime next year.
[Automotive News, sub req’d]