2017 Chrysler PacificaEnlarge Photo
With the introduction of the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt EV this month, the aging Fiat 500e three-door hatchback's 84 miles of range becomes woefully uncompetitive.
So Fiat Chrysler Automobiles needs a new all-electric vehicle to comply with California zero-emission vehicle rules—despite its CEO's frequent complaints that the company doesn't make money on them.
Now it appears we may see a concept version of its next all-electric vehicle within a few weeks.
Last week, The Detroit News reported that FCA wouldn't introduce any new vehicles at next month's Detroit Auto Show, which is traditionally the venue for domestic makers to unveil new models.
Instead, the paper said, the company would unveil a concept car at CES in Las Vegas the week before.
Now, according to a report by Bloomberg late yesterday, we learn that the CES debut is thought to be an all-electric minivan—which would be a first for any maker selling in the U.S.
2017 Chrysler Pacifica HybridEnlarge Photo
(Unless, that is, you count the Tesla Model X as a minivan; it's usually described as a crossover utility vehicle or SUV.)
Bloomberg attributes the report to "people...who asked not to be identified because the plans are private."
That generally means company insiders, suppliers, or dealers who have been shown the vehicle before its debut.
FCA declined to comment on the vehicle to Bloomberg; the company's Maserati unit is also developing an all-electric sports coupe model.
The company is now rolling out a plug-in hybrid version of its new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan, with an EPA rating of 33 miles of electric range.
That vehicle's lithium-ion cells and battery pack were designed by LG Chem, which also provides cells and the pack for the Chevy Bolt EV.
Could Chrysler be working on a lower-volume all-electric version of the Pacifica to meet its need for a 200-mile compliance car in years to come?
Fiat 500X development test car in camouflage near Fiat Chrysler HQ, Auburn Hills, Michigan, Jan 2015Enlarge Photo
If nothing else, just like the Pacifica (plug-in) Hybrid, it would give the company a plug-in electric entry in a niche that no other maker has entered.
That might be a smarter tactic than another suggested possibility for its next all-electric vehicle, a conversion of the Fiat 500X small crossover utility vehicle.
A camouflaged prototype of a 500X that did not appear to have a tailpipe was photographed by a Green Car Reports reader in February 2015.
CHECK OUT: Is The Next Chrysler Compliance Car An Electric Fiat 500X? (Feb 2015)
But an electric minivan might have far more family appeal—and justify a higher pricetag—than another small five-door electric hatchback.
In any event, we'll find out in less than a month.
Media days at the 2017 CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) are January 3 and 4 in Las Vegas.