Just a few years ago, Sergio Marchionne, then CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobile, pleaded with motorists not to buy the FCA’s first battery-electric vehicle because it would lose $ 14,000 on every Fiat 500e sold.
As FCA neared its merger with French group PSA this year, the Italian-American automaker remained skeptical of electric vehicles. Maybe it was the experience of selling just 27,000,500th over seven years in the US, the same thing Ford builds every two to three weeks at the F-150 plant. But that was then.
Now, Forbes Wheels has learned, the former FCA was quietly working on an assortment of electrified models, a list that is expected to include at least six all-electric models as well as additional plug-in hybrids such as the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe that has arrived in the United States. United showrooms this spring.
Under Stellantis, every ex-FCA brand gets EV models
As part of the new Stellantis, each of the old FCA brands will end up with some form of battery technology. Initially, Stellantis confirmed the arrival on the market of a handful of electric vehicles: new models for Maserati and Alfa Romeo, as well as a plug-in hybrid version of the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee. Insiders say at least a half-dozen battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) are in the works. This includes an all-electric pickup and what one ranking official has promised will be Dodge’s “fastest ever” muscle car, which means less than the 0-60 time of 2.3 seconds off. the Dodge Demon.
The move reflects a number of changes since the days when the late CEO Marchionne openly rejected battery technology and told potential customers, “Hope you don’t buy it.” Production costs have fallen as the range and performance of electric vehicles have improved. Like its competitors, Stellantis faces increasingly stringent emissions and fuel efficiency regulations and some countries, as well as a few states, are planning to ban internal combustion vehicles altogether.
The former FCA can now also rely on the resources of its French partner. Prior to the merger, PSA ranked second in European sales of electric vehicles.
Catch up with GM, Ford, VW, Nissan, BMW
When it comes to electric propulsion, Stellantis’ FCA side clearly lags behind rivals like General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, Nissan and even BMW. Each of them has several electric vehicles for sale in various markets.
For its part, FCA withdrew its only battery-electric vehicle, the Fiat 500e, from the American market. Until the launch of the Jeep 4xe, it offered only one model with an electrical outlet, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.
Jeep Grand Cherokee gets plug-in hybrid model
But that will start to change as the new mix of BEV and PHEV rolls out, with the automaker planning to offer automotive media a closer look at an event scheduled for July 8.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Hybrid – which will actually be a PHEV model – will come first, brand boss Jim Morrison told Forbes Wheels last week.
“We’re going to be the greenest SUV brand on the planet,” Morrison boasted during a preview of the 2022 gas-powered Grand Cherokee L.
The executive has reason to be confident. The Wrangler, overall, posted its best sales in May, with more than 25,000 SUVs delivered, and the 4xe accounted for 20.1% of that total. The 4xe is now the best-selling plug-in model in the United States, overtaking the Prius Prime.
Jeep will get additional electrified models, a portfolio that will eventually include a very first BEV.
Electric Ram pickup to fight F-150 Lightning and Silverado EV
The same will be true for two other brands that normally do not win praise from environmentalists. Among the products currently in development in the tech hub of suburban Detroit, the automaker is an all-electric Ram pickup. It’s designed to take on models like the new Ford F-150 Lightning, the battery-powered Chevrolet Silverado and the Hummer EV.
“They have to have one,” given all the other batteries entering the pickup truck market, said Sam Abuelsamid, senior automotive analyst at Guidehouse Insight. There are currently seven electric mics advertised.
There’s also a new battery-powered Dodge muscle car that a ranking official has categorically said “will be the fastest (Dodge) ever.” The new Tesla Model S Plaid launched earlier this month is expected to perform well, which would cut its launch times in the 2 second range and quarter mile runs in the range. of 9 seconds.
Dodge Hellcat with Legacy gasoline engine: “Not sustainable”
“The days of the Hellcat (conventional, gasoline) are numbered,” said Abuelsamid. “It is not a sustainable product.
The Dodge and Ram inputs will take advantage of the extreme torque that electric motors can develop; it will be the same for the electrified models Alfa and Maserati which had been previously confirmed. Newer battery technology will also allow them to provide the kind of range that buyers expect today – an area where the original Fiat 500e fell far short of meeting.
The number of their other brands such as Dodge, Jeep and Ram that will be electrified could be detailed during the media event scheduled for next month. But Abuelsamid and other industry analysts believe he has no choice but to change direction – and leverage the resources of his French side of Stellantis.