Who killed the electric car part II: CHRYSLER
BRADLEY BERMAN - FREEP
- November 22, 2009
Will Chrysler killing their EV division drive the nail deeper in their coffin? --Ed.
Chrysler said recently that its in-house team of electric car development engineers had been disbanded and will be folded into the company's organizational chart.
The announcement comes three months after Chrysler took $70 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a test fleet of 220 hybrid pickup trucks and minivans. It comes less than a year after Chrysler built its case for federal aid -- it received $12.5 billion -- by showing flashy designs of electric sports cars, trucks and vans, and promising 500,000 battery-powered vehicles on the road by 2013.
With a swipe of his wrist, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne cast aside Chrysler's EV plans -- commenting that batteries aren't ready, the market is minuscule and "electric vehicles are going to struggle." In doing so, he followed in the footsteps of other U.S. and European carmakers that have dismissed the inexorable movement of the auto industry toward greener more fuel-efficient electric and hybrid cars.
Chrysler is now left with an obligation to put those 220 test hybrids on the road -- which it says it will honor -- and an anemic effort to market a Dodge Ram Hybrid, which is to dribble out next year after five years' worth of promises that the vehicle is coming. In an era when green is the new black, the breakup of Chrysler's hybrid and electric car team is a public relations blunder.... [Read More]