Fiat-Chrysler eyes Tesla, unveils its electric vehicle development plan

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Electric vehicles are becoming an undeniable part of today’s automotive industry: As governments and regulatory authorities push forward even more stringent regulations, carmakers are spending millions on R&D for EV development. However it is safe to say that FCA (Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles) had not been a believer in the electrification of cars, with the late CEO of Ferrari Sergio Marchionne who died on 25th July 2018, famously remarking in 2017:

“It was always believed that electric cars save anything like the amount of CO2 but, before we assume electric vehicles are the ultimate reply, we need to reflect on the cradle-to-grave lifecycle.”

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But it seems that Fiat-Chrysler is now making an evolution, admission or to some, a capitulation into the world of electrified cars and have promised 27 electric cars (18 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles and 9 Battery Electric Vehicles) under Fiat, Jeep, RAM and Maserati nameplates by 2022.

As of today, Fiat-Chrysler’s only production electric cars are the Fiat 500e and the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid. The 500e is a half-hearted compliance car (made just to satisfy regulatory needs). Even the CEO of Fiat-Chrysler has urged people not to buy it! He said in a 2014 conference “I hope you don’t buy (the 500e)”, “because every time I sell one, it costs me $14,000.” The Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid may be a good car on paper, but the sales figures certainly don’t reflect that. It is clear that the Italian-American automaker requires more effort in this arena.

It appears that Fiat-Chrysler’s future lineup is going to see a lot of EVs since the firm is going to spend 9 billion out of the 45 billion euros they plan to spend until 2022, on electrification, according to Ferrari CEO, Sergio Marchionne. It was speculated that luxury icons Alfa-Romeo and Maserati are to be eyeing Tesla as major competitors in the EV market, this speculation was confirmed when the head of Alfa and Maserati made a comment in an NBCNews interview that made it official:

“Everything gets electrified. Look at our product portfolio and you see we’re going after Tesla,”

A look at the portfolio reveals that Maserati isn’t kidding. The Italian automaker plans on releasing six new models by 2020, with 12 electrified variants of which four will be fully electric, and eight will be plug-in hybrids. This is including the planned replacement for the legendary GranTurismo, the red-hot Alfieri, which you can learn more about here:

Read Also: Maserati and Ferrari join forces to tackle Tesla

fiat500e wagon

A whole host of EVs are expected under the Fiat moniker as well. Early reports point at an electrified range of the iconic 500-range; an updated Fiat 500e is expected as early as 2020, with the Abrath (Fiat’s high-performance variant), Cabriolet and even a retro-wagon variant expected to debut in 2022. The updated 500-range will also include Plug-in hybrid variants of the 500L and 500X crossovers, both of which are significant sellers for Fiat.

Interestingly, the renowned SUV manufacturer Jeep is also on the forefront of this plan, with electrified versions of the Compass, Cherokee, Renegade, and Commander. Jeep is making some bold statements like being back the out of production Wagoneer, (which is viewed by many enthusiasts as a classic) as an electrified car and even giving the iconic Wrangler the EV treatment! Both of these aforementioned steps may seem like sacrilege and upset purists and enthusiasts of the brand. It is likely that many electrified Jeep models will remain exclusive to the Chinese market, due to stringent government regulations, the fact that the Chinese are the primary audience for both Jeeps and EVs lends further credence to this belief.

Detroit based American carmaker Dodge is also getting in on the EV action with the upcoming RAM “metric-ton” pickup truck, the planned replacement for the RAM 1200 and Fiat Fullback. Little is known about other Dodge based EVs, but we can safely assume that we are going to be seeing a couple of those as well, anyone up for an 800+ HP Plug-in Hybrid Challenger SRT Hellcat?

Our Verdict:

It goes without saying, Fiat-Chrysler’s otherworldly claims and development plans are quite ambitious, to say the least. The firm has promised more electric cars than any other major carmaker. And that is not even considering the relatively short deadline of 2022, which is like the day after tomorrow in the automotive world. While these otherworldly claims may get the skeptics and doubters to say no (and for a good reason), it is worth mentioning that Fiat-Chrysler is a force to be reckoned with and is quite credible on its promises. Think about it: With Alfa-Romeo, Fiat, Maserati, Dodge and even Ferrari engineering teams behind them, they have the resources to pull off wonders.

The developing scenario takes me back to 2015: The world laughed when FCA announced that they are developing a platform named “Giorgio” with the aid of engineers from Alfa-Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari to go against the likes of BMW M3, Mercedes-AMG C63, Audi RS4 and Cadillac CTS-V. But look who is laughing now, as we know the end result of “Giorgio” to be the critically acclaimed 505 HP Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifogliowhich has indeed bettered the German and American sports sedans. While it is still to early to make any conclusive deductions about FCA’s EV agenda but we can certainly hope for the best.

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