Harald Wester, CEO of Fiat Chrysler’s revitalised Maserati brand, believes the future of green motoring lies in hybrids first, and hydrogen fuel cells later.
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Speaking with American magazine Motor Trend, Wester derided the weight of electric vehicle battery packs, throwing shade at the likes of Tesla’s Model S and the BMW i3.

“What the hell do you want with 400kg of battery driving around? No,” he said.

Wester, an outspoken critic of electric vehicles, previously described the zero-emissions claim attached to many EVs as “absolute nonsense”, declaring that very few are charged efficiently.

However, he believes that embracing alternative-energy technologies will be unavoidable, adding that hybrids are expected to make up 40 to 50 percent of the global premium vehicle market in the next 10 years.

Maserati Kubang concept rear

The company is already working on a plug-in hybrid system that it expects to offer first with the coming Levante SUV from late 2017 before spreading the technology to other models.

Beyond that, Wester has his sights set on hydrogen power, but not before fuel-cell technology is sufficiently advanced that the reliance on a battery system can be dramatically reduced.

“You need to bring the fuel cells not only to a certain technical and performance level so that you can keep the buffer battery relatively low. You also need to bring it to an affordable economic level. But then it's the future,” Wester told Motor Trend.

“The fuel cell should generate, in low energy demand situations, everything you need to run the vehicle, and in other situations you buffer what it can't supply in the battery.”

Wester also insists that you won’t see a four-cylinder Maserati any time soon, with the company focused instead on making its existing engines more efficient.

Maserati Alfieri Concept - 1

That’s partly driven by a focus on larger cars: “we will not go to a compact sedan,” Wester said, referring to the segment known in Australia as the medium category. Think BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class. “That would be Alfa area, no?”

Alfa Romeo recently unveiled its new Giulia sedan, which will compete directly with the 3 Series, C-Class, Jaguar’s new XE and other models in the medium premium car segment.

For now, only the top-shelf M3-fighting Giulia QV has been revealed, but a full range debut is expected to occur at September’s Frankfurt motor show.

As for Maserati, its coming launches will include the Levante SUV and, sometime in 2017, the new Alfieri coupe.