Ever since the latest "new" Chrysler emerged from the ashes of chapter 11 bankruptcy court last spring, it has been ominously quiet on the product front. In late June, the company scheduled and then canceled its annual "What's New" product preview for the media. In fact the only news of any note out of Auburn Hills in recent months has been the management changes made by CEO Sergio Marchionne.
So what is fate of the ENVI electric vehicle program? GM-Volt has published an op-ed over the weekend speculating about whether the whole program had been shelved or killed off. In all of the management shuffles, no mention has been made of ENVI. Last spring we talked to ENVI president Lou Rhodes and the programs seemed to be humming along despite Chrysler's financial difficulties.
Since Chrysler has not been at all reticent to remind us of any changes or departures from the management ranks, we're pretty sure that if Rhodes had been moved or let go we would have heard about it. Based on the presumption that Rhodes still has the same job, we also assume he has something going on there to manage.
We checked with Chrysler's main technology spokesman Nick Cappa and asked if our assessment was on track that a lack of news about ENVI and Rhodes indicated that work was ongoing, albeit quietly? Cappa responded that "Quietly is a good way to put it."
So there you have it, that's all the news there is for now but it sure sounds like development has not stopped, We'll find out for sure next week when Chrysler holds its 5-year business plan unveiling in Auburn Hills. Stay tuned.