FCA Offers Free Lunch To Lure Buyers To Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Fiat 500e

1 month ago by Steven Loveday 42

FCA

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid – FCA is the only automaker to release a plug-in hybrid minivan. Now it’s time to sell it.

It seems FCA may have to change its tune and get the ball rolling after GM and Ford make significant public announcements about the electric future.

We all know that FCA CEO, Sergio Marchionne, is not all about EVs. He’s actually known for his regular complaints about the segment. However, he does seem to understand the idea that the automaker’s hand are tied. Now, with two of the Detroit Three stepping up big time, Chrysler is wise to begin a more public push, or face being seen as the “odd man out”.

It’s becoming increasingly safe to say that electric cars are here to stay and that mass adoption is imminent. If the deal wasn’t officially sealed, last week’s announcements by GM and Ford may have been the final tipping point. Of course, European automakers have been making a slew of announcements for years, but we are still awaiting results.

FCA

Fiat 500e (Perhaps Marchionne now hopes people will buy this?)

Now that these automakers have committed to manufacturing EVs, it’s even more important to assure that people will buy them. Dealers are resorting to offering daily rentals, pushing EV rebates, and delivering the cars to your home for a free overnight test drive. FCA has started a family rideshare partnership, are practically giving away the Fiat 500e, and released some Pacifica marketing that features celebrities, kids, and even flying pigs, as well as a Sesame Street series. But they still have much more work to do.

FCA has set up a table in Santa Monica, CA in the luxury Silicon Beach business district. Workers come out to walk the area at lunch and find the table with vouchers for free food. Free food is always a good way to get folks’ attention. Once they approach the table, they learn that they can get a test drive of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (PHEV) and/or the Fiat 500e. FCA is basically saying, “If you drive it we will feed you!” The voucher is good for a meal at food trucks hired by the automaker, which are conveniently located near the test drive sign-up table.

WardsAuto talked to a local worker, Julie Wiskirchen, who had an opportunity to drive the Pacifica (and eat the free food). She was impressed with the plug-in minivan, however, we don’t know how the food was. She only opted for the test drive because a co-worker informed her of the free meal, so FCA’s ploy is working. She shared:

“I know people who need a bigger vehicle and would like to try an electric. I will tell them about the Pacifica. It fills a niche.”

Source: WardsAuto

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42 responses to "FCA Offers Free Lunch To Lure Buyers To Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, Fiat 500e"

  1. I hope they expand this beyond CA. I was unable to locate a single Pacifica Hybrid within 150 miles of my home in NE Tennessee. I got to drive a relative’s and found it to a well done vehicle.

    1. menorman says:

      That’s interesting and unfortunate. I’m not sure if they’ll really market it outside of CARB states like they will in unless they’re meeting their credits in the state, but I remember seeing some available at the local dealer’s website in Alabama when I visited a couple months back.

    2. PHEVfan says:

      Unfortunately NE TN is going to have slim pickins on the EV or PHEV front. Dealers in the Tri-Cities have one (1) Bolt and one Volt on the lot at best. Ford is even worse as the nearest is in Knoxville 100 miles away. Far too ICE loving of an area for EVs.

      My in-laws are visiting me in CA from NE TN right now. I gave them my PHEV to drive for the week just to show that EV’s meet their needs just fine.

  2. Mark.ca says:

    When it comes to Chrysler there’s no free lunch, you get what you pay for…

  3. john doe says:

    Do they even sell this model, or brand in Europe?

    1. Bob says:

      Why would anyone care if a minivan was available in Europe??

      1. Steven says:

        Probably, for similar reasons that I care compliance cars not being sold in Pennsylvania.

      2. luk says:

        Id buy one from the dealer instead after crash private import.

  4. Chris Stork says:

    Hey FCA, what’s the point of offering a free lunch when Tesla’s already eating yours?

    1. menorman says:

      Actually, the 500e is selling reasonably well, especially considering that it’s only available in two states. If they were to roll it out to all 50, I’m pretty sure that they’d be able to move at least 1200/month, which is definitely not the worst.

      1. Tony Billera says:

        Our 500e has 33k on it and we still giggle driving it. Handles great, quick, Terrific car.

    2. DJ says:

      Wow, who knew Tesla offered a minivan or that they even currently offer a vehicle you can actually go and buy right now for $42k or less 😀

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Oh gosh, a Tesla basher thinks it’s terrible that Tesla doesn’t offer a minivan. How awful! Sell your Tesla stocks now! 🙄

        The reason that Chrysler is the only American auto makers who is still making minivans is that almost everyone who used to drive a minivan is now driving an SUV or CUV. Minivans have shrunk to a niche market.

        And Europeans are still buying station wagons. How last century! But it would make far more sense for Tesla to make a station wagon; at least Europeans would buy them.

        If Tesla debuted a minivan tomorrow, people would be saying “Ho hum. When is your next model coming out?”

        1. Ray says:

          The only reason I don’t buy minivans anymore is because they have gotten too big and can’t fit in my garage anymore.

        2. DJ says:

          PuPu, your problem is that you think you know what other people are thinking. You think you’re clever when in reality you’re just a closed minded idiot.

          I wasn’t bashing Tesla merely stating the fact that Tesla isn’t eating FCA’s lunch whatsoever. They operate in for the most part very different markets.

          There are still a ton of people that have minivans. They’re the most utilitarian of vehicles and people that have kids still buy them and love them despite what your anecdotal evidence claims.

          Perhaps if you pulled your head out of Elon’s derriere you’d actually realize that.

          1. Mark.ca says:

            “I wasn’t bashing Tesla merely stating the fact that Tesla isn’t eating FCA’s lunch whatsoever. They operate in for the most part very different markets.”
            If Tesla wanted to eat their lunch they could…as stated in the article, it’s free…lol
            As for you not being a Tesla brasher….oh please, that’s how you start your day before getting coffee.

          2. Tony says:

            Chrysler has dominated the minivan market for 30 years. Honda and Toyota also have very nice ICE models. The VW Buzz looks like a great EV possibility.

        3. pjwood1 says:

          PP, He was responding to someone posting Tesla eating FCA’s lunch. FWIW, I don’t see how Tesla is doing that, either?

          Maybe a Model S, over a Ghibli, but Pacifica?

          1. Nick says:

            Maserati is under pressure from Tesla.

            Also, I know *many* people who would only buy very cheap cars before Tesla came along and offered a reason to buy an expensive car.

        4. Tom says:

          No way Tesla will offer minivans. The shape is all for practicality and not for deficiency. The range will shrink by half to 120- 150 miles. For $80k, no family will buy it.

        5. Joe says:

          350 000 plus per year is not nish market.

          1. Jim J Fox says:

            not nish market..

            not even a NICHE market??

        6. Jim J Fox says:

          Where are you getting your ‘facts’?

          http://carsalesbase.com/car-sales-europe/car-sales-segments/midsize-segment/

          “Midsized_car-segment-European-sales-2017_Q1-Volkswagen_Passat-Skoda_Superb-Ford_MondeoSales of midsized sedans (and station wagons) are crashing down hard in Europe just as they are across the Atlantic. In Q1 of 2017 sales were down 12% to just 145.500 units in an overall market up 7,8%”

          1. wavelet says:

            Europeans are still buying plenty of MPVs, which have been the major family-carrier car category for at least two decades. They sell ~1.4M/year, and ~90% are compact- or mini-size MPVs (both 2- and 3-row models). Very few of those are sold in the US, but still shouldn’t be ignored: With their high floors and need for a flexible interior (trading off seats & cargo space dynamically), they make excellent candidates for BEVs.

      2. Josh Bryant says:

        “Who knew Tesla offered a minivan”

        Umm, that is what Model X is right? Looks like one to me anyway. A minivan with insane 0-60, but still more minivan than SUV.

        But don’t get me started, most “SUVs” these days are minivans and wagons in disguise.

  5. M3 - reserved -- Niro/Leaf 2.0/Outlander - TBD says:

    We have the 500e coming end of 3 years now — great commuter car that gets nearly 100mi.

    We’ve just outgrown it with two teens.

  6. Dr. Miguelito Loveless says:

    I have read in a few places that the Pacific ICE cuts on, even while the battery still has a charge. If so, then this is NOT a PHEV.

    1. DJ says:

      Well then Dr. Loveless what is it?

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I hate to tell you this, good doctor, but every PHEV’s ICE engine cuts in now and then, even when the battery isn’t depleted.

      Even the Chevy Volt’s ICEngine starts up in cold weather, and runs until the battery pack is warmed up.

      * * * * *

      I must say, it’s disheartening to see all the arguments over the most basic of EV-related labels in InsideEVs comments. We’ve got “EV purists” who try to redefine the term “EV” as if it means only BEV, we’ve got a few people who argue that the Volt isn’t a PHEV because it’s an “EREV” (or “REEV”), as though that were somehow a different category; and now here one of our semi-regular commentors is trying to say that a car which is designed and built to run on either gasoline or a battery pack charged from the wall, isn’t a PHEV merely because the gas motor runs more often than he would like. 🙁

      And heaven forbid that I should point out that the term “EV” covers a heck of a lot more than plug-in EVs. Diesel-electric locomotives are EVs. So are sailplanes which have an auxiliary battery-powered propeller.

      Even the lowly non-plug-in Prius can and does run on its electric motors alone at times, without any assistance from its gasoline motor. Perhaps not that often, but it can and does do so. So yes, Virginia, HEVs like the non-plug-in Prius are EVs… even if a lot of the Usual Suspects here won’t admit it!

      1. Nick says:

        My dually diesel F-350 has an _electric_ starter _motor_. Just because it’s not as electric as you like does not change the fact that it’s an EV!

        If you expand the definition of EV too much, it loses any meaning.

        1. Bill Howland says:

          You realize I hope you’re being silly. A plug-in hybrid is called that because if the driver wants to, he can run off of plug in juice a majority of the time until the battery goes completely dead.

          I don’t care how many starter motors your f350 has, You aren’t going to constantly crank the engine while in gear to get you to the corner store and back on the 12 volt battery alone.

          While still a ‘teen, I had an old 67 camero that had a locked clutch, and had to be cranked everytime I had to make a dead stop, as in a stoplight. Syncro-mesh made it easy to shift gears without a clutch. but in city driving the starter motor propelled the car plenty.

      2. Bill Howland says:

        Pushi : Volts don’t work that way in cold weather. The New ones can be set to not run until 14 degrees fahreheit, so there is rarely the case when it is forced to run – although it does happen in my ELR much more often at 32 degrees.

        Has nothing to do with warming the battery, which is ONLY electrically heated.

        The engine warms until the jacket temperature is 140 degrees F. Battery temp has nothing to do with it as it runs and heats off itself.

    3. Jake Brake says:

      Maybe thats why they called it the Pacifica Hybrid. It just also happens you can plug it in and get amazing mpg. But lets not call it a plug in hybrid electric vehicle. Lets call it a hybrid with a battery range extender.

    4. Scramjett says:

      It’s my understanding that the ICE only cuts in when you hit at least 75. What I’m not clear on (and no one has been able to answer yet) is if that is a defacto hold mode or a “blended” mode that mostly uses battery power with some engine power to “help out.”

  7. Ray says:

    The Pacifica Hybrid is a good start, but can some car company build a 7 or 8 seat plug-in or electric that is the size of a Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot, maybe a tiny bit smaller. I can’t fit these wide/long cars in my garage, and don’t want to park it outside like all the other cars in my neighborhood.

    1. Scramjett says:

      Outlander PHEV? Or are you looking at something that’s 7 passenger? Word on the street is that Chrysler is planning a Highlander sized PHEV SUV/CUV that’s supposed to be announced soon.

  8. Joe schmoe says:

    No stow n go because of battery.
    Why would anyone buy one?

    1. Scramjett says:

      Third row still has stow-n-go. It’s just the second row that looses it. To me, that’s not a big loss since the Pacifica is the only minivan that has second row stow-n-go. No one else does, not the Sienna, Odyssey, Quest, or Sedona.

  9. Fred says:

    Pacifica hybrid can’t tow at all. Not a serious car. But the Pacifica ICE can tow 3600 lbs.

    I need to be able to tow. That leaves the Mitsubishi Outlander towing 3300 lbs or Model X towing 5000 lbs. I just really don’t like falcon wing doors. Model S seems like a much nicer car.

  10. Debbie says:

    I have a 500e it’s great, I can drive all week to work on a full charge. Only problem is if I go out of town long distant I need to rent a car.

  11. Spin says:

    So I clicked on a story about free lunch only to be disappointed because they’re not available in NY

  12. Scoyy says:

    I believe the Toyota RAV4 hybrid is a $600 option and they throw in LED headlights. Things like that can sway people over to hybrids, PHEV’ and BEV’s.

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