Instead of pursuing electric and hybrid solutions, Fiat and Chrysler global powertrain chief Bob Lee told reporters in Michigan diesels and small-capacity turbocharged petrol engines would form the basis of its North American line-up.
According to Lee, “many [American] customers want to reduce CO2, but they aren’t willing to change their lifestyle or pay the cost”, referring to the high price and limited ranges of battery packs, electric motors and chargers.
Interestingly, the only electric vehicle offered by Fiat-Chrysler in the USA – the Fiat 500e – is the same price as conventionally powered 500s, suggesting consumers are more concerned about the range and maintenance expenses of electric cars than their cost of purchase.
Although the North American market has typically shied away from diesel-powered vehicles, Chrysler has already started to make use of the diesel engines available from its union with Fiat. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is now available with a 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel producing 180kW and 560Nm, and the same engine will also be used in the Dodge Ram pick-up.
The downsizing and turbocharging of diesel and petrol engines is a solution already being adopted by many European car manufacturers, and is on paper an effective way to improve a car’s fuel consumption.
Lee also says that electric and hybrid vehicles require a greater performance sacrifice compared with small-capacity turbocharged engines. Just try telling that to Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche…