Chrysler-Fiat CEO Confirms 2015 Arrival Of Plug-In Hybrid Minivan

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 21

Chrysler's Plug-In Hybrid Minivan Now Coming In 2015, Not 2016 As Graphic Depicts

Chrysler’s Plug-In Hybrid Minivan Now Coming In 2015, Not 2016 As Graphic Depicts

Old Prototype Chrysler PHEV Minivan

Old Prototype Chrysler PHEV Minivan

Chrysler-Fiat CEO had a rather shocking announcement to make at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

That announcement, despite Chrysler-Fiat showing almost no commitment to plug-in vehicles, is that the plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation Chrysler Town & Country minivan will launch in 2015, not 2016 as previously promised.

Per Automotive News from the Paris Motor Show:

 

“CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed the new vehicle at the auto show here. It will arrive about a year earlier than the automaker indicated in its May 6 investor presentation.”

Despite bumping forward the PHEV minivan, Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne still shows no real commitment to plug in vehicles.  Quoting Marchionne:

“I think you need to be very, very careful if you think that electrification, given its inherent limitations on range, especially in markets like the U.S., will effectively displace combustion.  It will never provide the travel distance that you require, especially based on what we know today about the storage capabilities of batteries.”

“I keep on running into this fundamental economic obstacle of overcoming the cost equation of electrification. You can’t. You can’t unless there is a wholesale change and a fundamental shift in the pricing structure of cars.”

According to Chrysler, its plug-in hybrid minivan could match the fuel economy of a Toyota Prius.   Chrysler CEO/President Al Gardner previously stated that the van will get “75 miles per gallon,” but it seemed Gardner was unaware as to how plug-in vehicles get rated by the EPA.  So does this mean 75 MPG on the first gallon, 75 MPGe, or something else entirely?  We’ll let you know just as soon as Gardner sorts it out.

As for electric-only range, we’re expecting something in the 30-40-mile area.

Exciting times these are for minivan lovers looking to plug in.  Unfortunately, Chrysler-Fiat’s negativity towards plug-in vehicles basically guarantees that the PHEV minivan will be low volume and have limited U.S. availability.

Source: Automotive News

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21 responses to "Chrysler-Fiat CEO Confirms 2015 Arrival Of Plug-In Hybrid Minivan"

  1. gsned57 says:

    I’ve got a 2009 Grand Caravan and would Love to have a 40 Mile AER PHEV version. $60 to fill up every 350 miles would go down to filling up only on long family vacations. It all boils down to $$$$ at this point. What is the premium for that AER? It would probably save us $1200/year in fuel costs conservatively so I’d be OK with a $6000 premium or maybe slightly more given the $7500 tax rebate as well.

    I just hope the engineers did as good a job as Chevy did with the volt. I really want to want this car.

  2. JRMW says:

    “It will never provide the travel distance that you require”

    Never? That’s quite the claim. And 100% wrong IMO.

    ===
    I doubt it will have a 40 mile AER. The modus operandi of late is to have a 20-25 mile AER. Given that Nissan, Mitsubishi, VW, BMW, and GM (all leaders) have failed to produce a larger vehicle PHEV with 40 mile AER in 2015, I see little possibility that a hostile laggard like Chyrsler/Fiat could/would do it.

    ===
    I’m extremely happy to see yet more consumer choice in the PHEV and EV market.

    More and more it looks to me that PHEV will be the dominant direction for OEMs the next few years until the battery technology is mature enough to produce longer range EVs. Eventually the increased AER on the PHEVs will make the ICE unnecessary and people will realize how little they need the ICE

    It looks like the only major body style left is pickup truck.

    1. Nelson says:

      Have you seen the VIA trucks?
      http://www.viamotors.com/vehicles/electric-truck/

      NPNS! SBF!
      Volt#671

  3. taser54 says:

    Interesting development. It’s not really a question of if Fiat/Chrysler can do this. It is more a question of whether they can do this profitably.

  4. Spec9 says:

    HA ha! Even Sergio finally has to admit that plug-ins are the future. Fiat/Chrysler’s actions speak louder than Sergio’s (misinformed) words.

  5. pjwood says:

    Most likely there won’t be much in the way of “electric-only” performance. The absence of range talk, and focus on MPGe values, could be telling us this thing won’t be able to get out of its own way, without an ICE.

    1. Phil Kulak says:

      I agree. Those T&Cs have very large gas engines. You’d need at least a 150 KW electric motor to match it, which would require a larger inverter, cooler, and everything else.

      I’d still consider it, though, as long as you could get around under moderate acceleration without the engine coming on.

    2. QCO says:

      Yep…

      That’s a large vehicle that has to carry heavy loads, people and/or cargo.

      A 40 mile AER would require an enormous battery, which would make it cost prohibitive.

      It sounds like a conventional hybrid with a larger battery to support a modest AER, not unlike the Ford Energi products. Seems to be the path most manufactures are following at the moment, with some exceptions.

  6. Ford Prefect says:

    The United States Postal Service must be tickled pink since they are most likely the biggest potential customer!

    1. Spec9 says:

      Yeah, the US PS, FedEx, and UPS should buy these off-the-shelf electrified vans in large numbers. They’d save money on fuel, get tax-credits, and help build up a mass market for plug-in vans.

  7. Leptoquark says:

    Is this also going to be a vehicle that Sergio asks the public not to buy?

  8. Seems Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has not dialed in that EV don’t need batteries with a 400-600 range.

    With infrastructure a 120-150 mile range fits a natural longer distance travel pattern (a break every 2-3 hours for bio & munches). Most normal urban travel is under 120 miles per day … with average being 35-45 miles/day.

    eg: the Fiat 500e is already a great vehicle with demand greater than supply. If had DCFC connection, it would have even higher demand.

    By not scaling up production, Sergio is missing out on the opportunity to increase margins and recoup R&D investment … reducing the cost of building new models. He has already payed for the investment in BEVs, why not use it?

    1. Spec9 says:

      Yep. He just doesn’t get it. Most people would be fine with 120 to 200 mile EVs with fast-chargers. 80 mile range commuter EVs work fine for hundreds of thousands today. Can’t handle the range issue? Then PHEVs like the Volt work great and can cut gasoline usage by more than half. And pure EVs with long range batteries are being built and sold today although the price is a little high. But that price should come down.

      You don’t have to have specs that are as good or better in every category to replace an old technology. YOu just need a product that is better overall. Cell phones have crap call quality but people love them due to mobility. MP3s have worse audio quality but people love them because they can store them on their phones and MP3 players. EVs will always struggle a little on range but driving on electricity is dirt cheap, they are more reliable, they don’t smell, they don’t drip, you can refuel at home, no smog checks, etc. so they’ll eventually outsell gas cars when the price of batteries is low enough and/or the price of gas is high enough.

  9. Brian says:

    Good news indeed. I know many people who would consider this if it isn’t too high of a premium.

  10. David says:

    I need to use an electric wheelchair and I also want to save the environment. This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for.
    It’s unfortunate that the Chrysler CEO is so very shortsighted.

  11. Lou Grinzo says:

    It’s a small-to-medium step in the right direction, IMO.

    I remain convinced that the Big Three Holdouts (Fiat, Honda, Toyota) won’t fully come around on EVs and longer-range PHEVs until there’s a major change in management at each company. Of course, losing sales to competitors has a way of forcing such changes…

  12. Spec9 says:

    ““I keep on running into this fundamental economic obstacle of overcoming the cost equation of electrification. You can’t. You can’t unless there is a wholesale change and a fundamental shift in the pricing structure of cars.””

    Those that think they can and those that think they can’t are both right.

  13. Delta says:

    I know Chrysler can do this. They understand minivans and build more of them than all other companies combined. 30 miles on battery will cover 80 percent of my daily needs. And there is a huge flat floor on these things already so putting a battery under the floor is easy.

    I think the fact that they would have no competition in that car category would allow high 30k price point. Imagine a super simple system where front drive remains the same as ICE version, and rear wheels are powered by electric.

    1. Spec9 says:

      They know mini-vans but they know almost nothing about hybrids. And less on Plug-In hybrid vehicles.

  14. pete g says:

    Nissan Leaf drivers rejoice. You will soon be able to retire the old Sienna or Odyssey, and have a real plug-in to park in the garage next to it.

    I mean no disrespect to leaf drivers or the PHEV Town and Country. I just think this will be the perfect vehicle combination for young families.

  15. Bill Howland says:

    Its quite amazing the Bob Lutz figured this out so perfectly in the VOlt, and gave the car a great all electric range.

    And then Sergio, will put a dinky battery in so the thing gets 20 miles like all those ford phev’s, since he hates spending money for batteries. As nice as the car may be, i’ll probably get a mitsubishi outlander to get the bigger battery.

    A leaf sized battery in this car would give it 50-60 miles with careful driving. I really do not know what Sergio is taling about. Such a vehicle would so greatly relieve engine stresses that marketing could say this is one “extended life” PHEV, which people would gladly pay the extra cost to get such a long-lived vehicle, not to mention the fuel savings, and, for cities like Los Angeles, the SMOG savings.