2016 Chrysler 200
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will soon launch a hybrid version of the Chrysler Town & Country minivan as part of a redesign of that model that will be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
While it's the sole FCA hybrid in recent memory to be named specifically, it will apparently be just one of many new hybrid models from the Italian-American company.
The Town & Country Hybrid's launch will kick off a proliferation of hybrids throughout the FCA lineup, the company's boss said recently.
"Most of the fleet" of Fiat Chrysler vehicles will be hybrids by the 2020-to-2025 time frame, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said during a conference call with The Detroit News and other media last week.
Marchionne did not discuss any specific models besides the new minivan, or the reasoning behind the somewhat surprising announcement of a major commitment to hybrids.
Chrysler officials have hinted at other potential hybrid models, but the Town & Country has been the only new hybrid production model confirmed recently.
2016 Dodge Dart
The decision is likely a part of FCA's strategy for meeting Federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which mandate a fleet average of 54.5 mpg (equivalent to about 42 mpg on the window sticker) by 2025.
Marchionne has previously said that no carmaker--including his own--would have trouble meeting the 54.5 mpg target, but that it could be prohibitively costly.
However, The Detroit News claims FCA previously hoped to rely more on diesels, but that those plans have been derailed by the ongoing Volkswagen emissions scandal.
Marchionne said the scandal--involving software that allowed cars to cheat emissions tests--will not completely kill diesel engines.
"The origin of the problem was a corporate governance failure," Marchionne said, not an issue with technology.
FCA currently offers its 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and Ram 1500 full-size pickup truck.
2016 Jeep Cherokee
Reports earlier this year also pointed to a smaller diesel engine for passenger cars, although there have been no apparent developments on that front.
The sole passenger vehicle offered with a diesel today is the Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, though some reports suggest that Chrysler has diverted engines from that vehicle to its popular diesel Ram 1500 pickups.
Several years ago, Marchionne had said that both the Chrysler 300 and the Town & Country would receive hybrid versions around 2013. Those plans never materialized.
The only hybrids ever sold by Chrysler were the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen Hemi Hybrid large SUVs, which were sold for only a few months prior to the company's 2009 collapse and bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, the next-generation Chrysler Town & Country minivan is expected to debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show in January, and go on sale as a 2017 model.
It will replace a current generation that has been in production since 2007, meaning it's now in its tenth year on sale.