Chrysler dumps e-car plans
Gone, but not forgotten?
Leccy Tech Chrysler's e-car strategy has vanished down the plughole, taking with it any chance of us getting intimate with the Lotus Europa-based Dodge Circuit.
Chrysler's ENVI arm is to close, ending hope of the Lotus Europa-based Dodge Circuit
Things have been ominously quiet at Chrysler's ENVI e-car division for a while and now the firm has confirmed that the division is no more.
The announcement also means drivers will now never have the opportunity to play with Chrysler’s planned range-extended plug-in hybrid Jeep or MPV models.
At the Detroit Auto Show back in January, Chrysler pledged to have 500,000 battery-powered vehicles on the road by 2013. Those were the days.
Exactly why Chrysler’s suddenly ditched its e-car plans is unclear. But it’s worth remembering that the firm was answerable to the US tax payer, who paid $12.5bn (£7.4bn/€8.3bn) to help keep the car maker in business.
Chrysler's sudden change of heart over electric cars isn’t the end of the world, though, and there may even be a silver lining to this grey cloud.
The ENVI division’s boss - Lou Rhodes, who back in November 2008 said e-cars were a key “long-term viable business for Chrysler” – has been retained as head of electric projects at Chrysler and Fiat - which owns roughly 20 per cent of the Chrysler.
Chrysler may still make battery-powered cars like Fiat's Doblo van-cum-mini-MPV
Fiat’s CEO and newly-appointed head of Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, has also since admitted that Chrysler is still interested in bringing an e-car to market within in the next few years.
However, he is said to be thinking of a battery-powered version of Fiat's Doblo van-cum-mini-MPV designed to compete with Ford's electric Transit Connect.
Ron Bloom, who heads up the US government taskforce that oversaw the restructuring of GM and Chrysler, even told Reuters: “We obviously would be very happy if Chrysler and GM were making lots and lots of high mileage cars. It's not a prerequisite. It's not an obligation.”
How Chrysler’s news will sit with President Obama’s plan to get 1m e-cars onto American highways by 2015 still isn’t clear. ®
I don't get this mania for electric cars
It does nothing to save the environment, it just moves the pollution out of the city, and probably, due to electricity generation, transmission and battery inefficiencies, increases the CO2 output. Unless you're France or Norway with massive amounts of renewable electricity.
I just wish someone could come up with a tiny, 2 seat car, limited to about 100 miles range and 50 mph, with a super efficient small petrol engine and do a comparison, because I bet it would be much more energy and C02 efficient. To make it match the electric cars, it could even look hideous too...
What really depresses me about the global warming 'debate' is the absolutely piss-poor quality of the argument. Too much wishful thinking and point-scoring, and not enough common sense and practicality - means nothing will get done until either we're all drowning in 2080 or it turns out that all the models were wrong and so it makes no difference anyway.
I sell solar technology and it's not going to be viable in the UK for at least 10 years because it's too expensive and no-one understands how to use it properly so it's used wrong and saves no energy. And that's solar-thermal. Photovoltaic is completely impractical here, unless we can arrange to get more sun that we currently have or the technology gets massively more efficient in say 20-30 years time.
... I suppose global warming may sort that problem out...
IIRC this is their 3rd bailout.
I suppose that having given *so* much money to various banks to save the asses of those who handed mortages to Mr & Mrs Otis Q Crackhead the relevant Chrysler played the sympathy card to their local Senators & Con-gresspersons.
The fact they did'nt spend the last shedload of bailout cash well enough to need *another* one (or two?).
Seriously had Chrysler gone to the wall what would have happened?
Some bits get closed for good. Some get sold to other manufacturers. Some *might* have set up as a new independant car mfg.
Workers for all of the above (provided they don't re-locate the plant) get re-hired and most of their suppliers (who no doubt are mostly as internationally uncompetitve as the companies they supported) would stay in bussiness.
A certain proportion of those workers would be near retirement age anyway (IIRC US auto workers pension arrangements are quite good).
$12.5Bn. If their were 10 000 workers involved that $1.25m *each*. If a 10x that are involved that's still $150k
American governments like to say they have a free enterprise economy. That is *unless* your big enough to have lobbyists to beg for your survival on your behalf. Then your a "Strategic asset" which "cannot be allowed to fail."
Some of Chryslers e-car designs looked good and there is interest in the concept and the vehicles themselves. Enough to make a business? We'll never know.
The deal's been done and the US taxpayers certainly have been.
Chrysler not long for this world
I suspect that it will be Chrysler in name only. I find it worth note that they are spinning the Ram trucks and Jeeps out into separate divisions. They have stated they plan to replace the small and mid-sized cars with Fiat designs within the next few years. The Viper is gone, to be replaced possilby by a Ferrari derivative. There won't be much left that's Chrysler -- Full sized cars (Dodge Charger & Chrysler 300) and mini-vans.