• Aug 10th 2012 at 4:00PM
  • 48
Why has Chrysler been on the sidelines in the race for an, ahem, electrifying product lineup? The automaker is taking a more wait-and-see approach. As Bob Lee, Chrysler Group LLC's head of engine and electrified propulsion engineering, said during Center for Automotive Research's 2012 Management Briefing Seminars, ""We do believe in electrification, sparingly and for the right kinds of targeted applications. ... We're developing technology for commercialization, preparing for the shift when consumers start pulling them into the marketplace."

There are other corporate priorities, such as parent company Fiat weathering the financial cataclysm in Europe. There's also the challenge of marketing the small Fiat 500 in the U.S. market at a time when sporty Fiat cars are, for most, merely a memory. Chrysler will begin production of an electric Fiat 500 later this year and will roll it out in 2013.

While the company has been testing plug-in hybrid Chrysler Town & Country minivans with municipal fleets and is considering bringing in plug-in hybrid Ram pickups, compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles are more important to Chrysler Group, at least for now. Some of that comes from Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, who emphasizes CNG vehicles and high fuel efficiency internal combustion engine vehicles.

Chrysler brought its bi-fuel CNG Ram 2500 pickup to the U.S. market this summer. State and municipal governments are bringing a lot of CNG-powered vehicles into their fleets and are sure to buy a few of these trucks.


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  • 48 Comments
      roadkill
      • 2 Years Ago
      TBH, I dont think anyone here knows waht they are talking about a dedicated gas engine is way better lpg is not cng LIQUID gas can enjoy major benefits if it is delivered as a liquid to the cylinder head lng is tricky & probably wont happen for domestic use - so NG is a vapor system lpg/propane - much the same to most ecuS if not all - here in OZ - am told if u tank up some places, its 100% propane We use lpg a lot here & folk & engines love it dedicated gas is scary re range anxiety, but its brilliant once u take the leap liquid/gas dual fuel is always an inefficient & cumbersome compromise The real issue is of course infrastructure ~500 public cng refill stations in usa is absurd - cmon prez - get u finger out prez, buffet & t boone pixckens nee to get their heads together for the sake of the usa
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Meh; i think Chrysler just doesn't have the money to do any real R&D, nor do they have the cash to take any risks. That seems to have been the case for the last few decades, as their engines have always lagged behind in technology. They like CNG because it's cheap to convert a car to it. But coincidentally, the only people who seem to be buying it is government.
        ronwagn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Fiat has the technology, and they own half of Chrysler.
        SVX pearlie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        "Chrysler just doesn't have the money to do any real R&D" BINGO! We have a winner. EV tech is expensive, so Chrysler has to wait until the tech becomes cheap enough for them to license.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 3 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          ^-- lol, nailed it.
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          Because it's a mechanism of automobile propulsion that hasn't been seriously considered in roughly 100 years.
          Giza Plateau
          • 3 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          Why would it be expensive?
      Scambuster
      • 3 Years Ago
      Obsolete engine technology, gas guzzler, high emission, lousy mpg, low quality, poor reliability.......these are the hallmarks of Chrylser during the past 40 years. It's not surprising Chrysler went belly-up.
      Ben Crockett
      • 3 Years Ago
      wait-and-see approach = do nothing approach
        ronwagn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ben Crockett
        I think you will see Chrysler/Fiat take the lead in CNG vehicles in the USA. Ford, and GM have done nothing except for fleets, although they sell CNG cars all over the world.
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Natural Gas is one big lie. Burning it is not nearly as clean as it is said to be, unfortnately....and fracking is terrible.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nick
        Nick! I thought you were dead! :)
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nick
        @ Nick, Don't get too caught up in the anti-NG, fracking propaganda. It's true that NG is only a cleaner fossil fuel, less harmful, but fossil fuel all the same. However, most anti-fracking propaganda is largely based on bad science and prejudiced hype. Most of the anti-fracking arguments lack any credibility. What is true is that a better regulatory regime (especially in the US) would prove beneficial to all the parties. NG, is used all over the world as an alternative to coal and oil. NG will play a huge role in keeping America strong in the 21 century !
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      Chris m said it's better to have just one tank of fuel because it give more space.
      stumpy
      • 3 Years Ago
      their loss
      brotherkenny4
      • 3 Years Ago
      Because they don't know anything about electrification. They are way behind. Sure everyone else is overly cautious and frightened of the future, but Chrysler has nothing. How hard is it to burn LNG in an internal combustion engine?
        PR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        BK4 They did go through the entire ENVI line of electric prototypes successfully. They had running prototypes of a converted EV Lotus similar to the Roadster, and Volt-style 40 mile REEV's based upon their popular Jeep Wrangler and some minivan. They did break that team up and move those engineers to other projects, but they do still have the research, etc. It is pretty easy to burn natural gas in an ICE. That's why they are going that direction for now while they hold back on BEV's. It isn't my favorite solution either, but it is a sane reaction to an insane economic reality across the globe. China's economy is now quickly slowing, Europe's economy is at the edge of a cliff, and the US is stuck in slow growth only barely moving forward. Frankly, it is a miracle that any EV's/PHEV's have been able to be brought to market at all by any company.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          They never came through with hard specs on those ENVI vehicles. I think the Dodge Circuit may have been pretty far along but the other ones were largely prototypes.
          PR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          They were definitely all just prototypes. I only mentioned them to contest the claim that "they don't know anything about electrification". They knew enough to build prototypes, which is far from not knowing anything.
          krona2k
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          but where do you fill up?
          PR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          Aside from the private locations that businesses use, here is one locator: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/natural_gas_locations.html If you are in L.A. or S.F. you have decent choices. Same with a number of other major cities. If you are on a road trip in a bi-fuel CNG Ram 2500, you just fill up with gasoline when you can't fill up on CNG. That is the advantage of bi-fuel CNG. You aren't stuck with just CNG, you can run on gas too. It is the Chevy Volt of the CNG world.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        Fiat is way ahead in bi fuel and CNG vehicles. It is one thing to build them, another to do so at the very competitive price against petrol and diesel that they do. That is why they are the biggest producer of these in the world.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Dunno. We haven't really got that hassle in Europe, where the infrastructure is adequate. Here in the UK as long as you are in a city you can find an LPG pump nearby for use, and if you do go to somewhere where it is not available you can just switch to petrol.
          krona2k
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          my next car will be plug in because I know I can charge up at home at a reasonable price. How can a know the future plans for anything that requires real infrastructure? Thats why in my opinion plug ins will ultimately succeed over everything else.
          krona2k
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @DaveMart I live in the uk, I honestly couldn't tell you where my nearest cng station is though I'm sure it's not that hard to find out. To me it boils down to three thing, electricity everywhere including at home and likely to be at a stable if increasing price, petrol available everywhere but price likely to be volatile and increasing, initial purchase cost of plug in cars. The first two considerations seem to be quite settled which leaves the purchase cost as an issue.
          PR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          krona2k plugin cars are even more future-proof if you can make solar panels work for your location too. Definitely the ultimate in personal energy security.
          ronwagn
          • 2 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Keep informing people about CNG and LNG. You are on top of it! http://ronwagnersrants.blogspot.com Natural gas is the future of energy. It is replacing dirty, dangerous, expensive coal and nuclear plants. It is producing the electricity for electric cars. It will directly fuel cars,pickup trucks, vans, buses, long haul trucks, dump trucks, locomotives, aircraft, ships etc. It will keep us out of more useless wars, where we shed our blood and money. Here are over 1,700 recent links for you: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NbaKYme3bqOw0b6KMxXSjOLHLNeflalPy9gIAiTYFMQ/edit
      Ford Future
      • 3 Years Ago
      Right Wing Jump on the CNG bandwagon translates into HIGH PRICES for CNG producers, that's the goal. Hybrids and EV CUT carbon fuel usage. Look at the Farm Belt under extreme drought conditions. What will CNG do to relieve the situation? Nothing.
        ronwagn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        Farm equipment will eventually be burning CNG or LNG. Caterpillar is "all in" for natural gas. Hopefully John Deere etc. is studying this. Natural gas will save a ton of money for farmers. It also heats their pigs, chickens, and dairy cows. Fertilizer is made out of natural gas. It will pump water out of the ground, if there is any there.http://ronwagnersrants.blogspot.com Natural gas is the future of energy. It is replacing dirty, dangerous, expensive coal and nuclear plants. It is producing the electricity for electric cars. It will directly fuel cars,pickup trucks, vans, buses, long haul trucks, dump trucks, locomotives, aircraft, ships etc. It will keep us out of more useless wars, where we shed our blood and money. Here are over 1,700 recent links for you: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NbaKYme3bqOw0b6KMxXSjOLHLNeflalPy9gIAiTYFMQ/edit
        Marco Polo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        Ford Future In some places the US is suffering the worst drought for 50 years ! Do you understand ? 50 years. Not the worst drought ever, just the worst in 50 years ! GNG use may help reduce farm costs. But nothing will stop cyclical droughts.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        PR has spoken positively about CNG. (instigating)
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        If the right likes anything, it is wrong.
      Baldur Norddahl
      • 3 Years Ago
      A CNG version of the Volt/Ampere would get an insane MPG rating. CO2 output on CNG is only about half of gasoline, so why not make plugin hybrids with CNG? CNG is also cleaner burning compared to both gasoline and diesel.
        Ford Future
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Baldur Norddahl
        Fracking fields leak methane forever, and pollute scarce groundwater. This isn't 1950 anymore. There are 7 Billion people on the planet and this doesn't help.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          @Baldur: If you are burning expensive fuel like petroleum you can justify the extra expense of making it into a hybrid. If you are burning cheap natural gas the sums don''t work.
        Nick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Baldur Norddahl
        Baldur That might actually be a myth. There's arguing going on in Germany right now about the environmental impact of CNG, which is widely in use there. It turns out to not be nearly as clean as advertised when burned in an ICE...
      ronwagn
      • 2 Years Ago
      http://ronwagnersrants.blogspot.com Natural gas is the future of energy. It is replacing dirty, dangerous, expensive coal and nuclear plants. It is producing the electricity for electric cars. It will directly fuel cars,pickup trucks, vans, buses, long haul trucks, dump trucks, locomotives, aircraft, ships etc. It will keep us out of more useless wars, where we shed our blood and money. Here are over 1,700 recent links for you: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NbaKYme3bqOw0b6KMxXSjOLHLNeflalPy9gIAiTYFMQ/edit
      krona2k
      • 3 Years Ago
      We seem to be stuck in an era of uncertaintity and indecision, we know LNG vehicles will be cheap to make but we need the infrastructure. EVs and PHEVs are expensive but don't have the infrastructure problem. At the moment it still looks like PHEV wil be the long term 'solution' to personal transport woes since they are the middle ground with regards to infrastructure and battery pack requirements. Maybe Ford have it right with the 20 mile electric range.
        PR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @krona2k
        krona2k - The infrastructure issue isn't that bad for bi-fuel CNG vehicles, because they can run on regular gasoline whenever CNG isn't available. They work like a poor-man's PHEV in that regard. Given the choice where money isn't an issue, I'd buy a PHEV version of a Ram 2500. Since money is an issue, this is a decent alternative for now.
          JakeY
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          It's worthless if you can't fuel it with CNG for daily use (just like a PHEV is worthless if you can't charge at home). You are paying a $10k plus premium so it you can't just run it on gas and call it a day (like you can with flex fuel vehicles which cost only a couple hundred in premium).
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          PR nooooooooo, not implying that at all. I thought it was just humorous that considering our divergent views on most stuff, the one time I make a positive comment, I am down voted, and you are too! I wouldn't think you would down vote me for agreeing with you! :)
          PR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          Jake Yes, customers will have to self-select according to availability in their own market, the same as Volt customers self-selecting based upon whether they have nightly charging available for themselves too. For now they are only doing fleet sales, so the folks doing the buying will likely figure all this out before they buy. Maybe even have their own natural gas station installed in their fleet headquarters. The price is high up front, but there is also a high potential for fuel savings over the long run if the fleet managers do their math on how long they plan to keep them before turning them over, and how many miles they will run. Luckily, a good fleet manager can figure all this out before any purchase, and virtually guarantee a profitable ROI. And Dodge doesn't need to sell to everyone to be successful, just to the customers who can make the numbers work.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          Rational PR, is Rational
          PR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          EZEE I'm not the one who downvoted you, if that is what you are impying.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          I get downvoted for saying PR is rational, LOL. PR decidedly has mixed feelings on this development.
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @krona2k
        Yes, definitely agree.
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