Marchionne says producing natural gas technology provides a cheaper means of being green. He says electric vehicles and hybrids are more complicated and less viable due to the batteries and their varying recharge times. He also says EVs and hybrids have "too many obstacles".
Fiat transmission and hybrid engineer, Constantinos Vafidis, who works at Fiat's research centre in Turin, Italy, said in a recent interview,
"Natural gas is very suitable for the US, especially for public services and goods transportation, where vehicles are refueled from a central base."
It makes sense for the US to use natural gas as a power source for another reason too. Last year the country became the highest producer of natural gas, so its infrastructure can certainly handle it. But why is Fiat so keen on the idea? Well, in Europe, Fiat makes up 80 percent of the market in natural gas-powered vehicles, which means the company knows a thing or two about the technology.
According to Fiat research, the additional costs to produce an electric hybrid powertrain for a car are around $8000, while a diesel engine is said to be around $3300. A natural gas version, however, is said to cost only around $3000 to develop into a model. This means initial purchase prices can be kept relatively low.
Fiat hopes to start selling gas-powered cars as soon as the brand launches in the US next year, and hopes to offer plenty of natural gas-powered models to rival not only Honda - the only manufacturer currently selling natural gas vehicles in the US - but also Toyota, Nissan and GM.
Will the technology take off? Only time will tell at this stage.