Diesel-powered vehicles beat electric vehicles and hybrids – hands down – according to Bob Lee, head of global powertrain at Fiat and Chrysler. Lee made the comments recently at the CAR Management Briefing's Advanced Powertrain Forum in Traverse City, MI, and we assume for some they are fighting words.

Lee said that reducing CO2 is important to customers but they don't want to change their lifestyle or pay extra for the battery packs, electric motors and chargers. Not yet, anyways. And a shift like that might not happen for another decade, he said. And Fiat/Chrysler isn't interested in investing until the consumers are ready to pay for their plug-in cars. So, for now, Chrysler and Fiat will continue to invest in diesels and smaller, more powerful turbocharged engines. The new diesels compete head-to-head with hybrids for vehicles that deliver 20 percent to 30 percent fuel economy improvements. Lee thinks diesels offer better performance than hybrids, which gives them the real advantage.

We can see Lee's attitude in the product line-up for the two companies. The Fiat 500e is all that's currently being offered and there are no more electric vehicles or hybrids coming down the pipeline. The Fiat 500e is only available for sale in California at the same price as the non-electric 500, just $199 a month. What's interesting is that the automaker is telling buyers they do not have to pay any extra for the 500e, since the lease deal is so good (if you can get it) while also telling the press that customers need to pony up if EVs are going to succeed. Seems odd to us.

Chrysler has just rolled out a new 3.0L V6 turbo diesel version of the Grand Cherokee that gets 22 city and 30 highway in two-wheel drive. The Ram ProMaster cargo van with a diesel engine will arriving this summer. The Ram 1500 pickup will be out in the late fall, and will be available with the same diesel powertrain as the Grand Cherokee.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 32 Comments
      Rotation
      • 12 Hours Ago
      The sale price of the Fiat 500e is not the same as the sale price of the non-e. It's the lease prices that are similar. FIAT is clearly subsidizing the price of the car. So you can see how they can say they don't want to make any more of them. That's how compliance cars, work, remember? You sell enough to comply, but you aren't really committed.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 12 Hours Ago
      Where would the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt be if Nissan and Chevrolet be if they had that attitude? ah well, they deserve the business... :)
      throwback
      • 12 Hours Ago
      Would you pay 35K for one, which is the true estimated cost? Fiat is subsidizing the cost of the car thus creating demand. How much money should Fiat be willing to lose on each car?
      brotherkenny4
      • 12 Hours Ago
      It makes no difference what Fiat thinks. They are the eleventh ranked car company in the world. Even combined with Chrysler, they are not top five (Chrysler is at 13th). Why spend any time worrying about what the less than relevant are saying. Besides, what I hear when Fiat speaks is Wah Wah Wah Whine. They obviously don't have the capability to compete and they are mad at the consumers for wanting something they don't know how to do. Okay, that's fine, don't do it. No big deal.
      offib
      • 12 Hours Ago
      Honestly, Fiat said they'll actually sell the 500e if customers are willing to pay for the price upwards of $34-36000. Still, it seems that if $199/month is subsidized by Fiat, but why is Nissan managing to profit on a figure like that with the LEAF? Well, Nissan doesn't buy the who drivetrain from Bosch. Fiat is lucky enough they made a good enough car to sell well, but I sure wouldn't want to lease a 500e. I'd be happier with a Coda, G-Wiz or VW e-up!. Leasing the 500e for me would be nothing more than funding a company that openly despises electric cars and hybrids. That reason itself actually stopped me off from liking Fiat there on. They would be really shooting themselves in the foot if the 500e wasn't as fun to drive second to the Model S. I'm getting the impression that Fiat is trying to tell the public not to buy the 500e so they can use it as an excuse that nobody wants EVs and sue against CARB. Does that ring a bell, Toyota? Well, we'll see how sales numbers for the 500e will turn out in a year. So in summary, Fiat is wanting to let other manufacturers and especially Smart gaining the upper hand in the market with its ForTwo ED.
        Marco Polo
        • 12 Hours Ago
        @offib
        @ offib "I'd be happier with a Coda, G-Wiz...." You sure have strange tastes, offib ! However, even if you really, really hate Fiat, it doesn't explain why you haven't purchased a GM Spark, Volt or Leaf ? There are a lot of people who indignantly castigate Fiat for not being 100% committed to EV's, but don't actually buy a EV themselves !
        Spec
        • 12 Hours Ago
        @offib
        "Well, we'll see how sales numbers for the 500e will turn out in a year." Their sales numbers are meaningless since they only building a few of them as compliance cars.
        Technoir
        • 12 Hours Ago
        @offib
        offib Only very few of the automakers have an EV available for purchase / lease. Shouldn't your hate be directed at those who don't? The Fiat 500 EV is a great electric car no matter if it's a compliance car.
      stumpy
      • 12 Hours Ago
      compliannccceeeeeeeeeeee
        stumpy
        • 12 Hours Ago
        @stumpy
        meant to be read with the voice of Kristen Wiig with her Bridesmaids statement "lesbiannnnn"
      JIM
      • 12 Hours Ago
      According to Inside EVs, Fiat Reportedly Issues “Stop Sell” Order While It Hunts Down Defective 500e Electric Vehicles An investigation was launched after Chrysler Group learned a customer’s vehicle exhibited power loss. Engineers discovered two assembly steps had not been properly completed; creating a condition that could lead to half shaft separation. Chrysler Group is unaware of any related accidents or injuries. jim.-
      Spec
      • 12 Hours Ago
      Because what you really want to do is let your competitors become experts at a particular new product category before you enter the market later with no clue as to how to build things. I think business schools refer to this clever strategy as "last-mover advantage".
        TurboFroggy
        • 12 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        Well when that happens they can just start buying drivetrains from Tesla.
          paulwesterberg
          • 12 Hours Ago
          @TurboFroggy
          As if Tesla will have any spare capacity.
          Jesse Gurr
          • 12 Hours Ago
          @TurboFroggy
          Toyota did that because they want to focus on fuel cells and don't want to have EVs in their lineup. They just contacted out to Tesla until their fuel cell car is ready for production. I have heard that it has been pretty buggy with one problem after another. I don't know if Tesla designed the software for it too or just provided the drivetrain to Toyota and let them develop it. In any case, its too bad it's only a compliance car and they won't be making any more after its done.
      gpmp
      • 12 Hours Ago
      @Throwback "How much money should Fiat be willing to lose on each car?" They should be willing to lose exactly a dollar less than what they would otherwise have to pay to purchase CARB credits from Tesla.
      Electron
      • 12 Hours Ago
      Fiat's attitude doesn't worry me. No need for every carmaker to try and get a piece of an EV market that will remain relatively niche until there is a major battery breakthrough. Maybe the fact that Tesla's market cap is currently more than double that of Fiat should be an indication for it though that the "we don't care about EVs attitude" isn't actually a particularly viable long term strategy.
      paulwesterberg
      • 12 Hours Ago
      The next time the price of gas spikes if Chrysler goes bankrupt again there will not be another bailout. They had their chances to update their product line, but the companies core strategy is rooted in ignorance.
        Spec
        • 12 Hours Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Indeed. 3 strikes rule for Chrysler.
      Giza Plateau
      • 12 Hours Ago
      Good luck with that Fiat.
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