FCA's Sergio Marchionne is convinced diesel is dead when it comes to small city cars. That means the upcoming new generation Fiat 500 will lose its 1.3-liter MultiJet diesel and gain a 48-volt hybrid powertrain. Nitrogen oxide emissions are something you want to get rid of in city use, where the 500 and its competitors shine. It seems only the brave will continue selling diesel cars in this class.

In an interview with AutoExpress, Marchionne says he's certain about diesel's fate. "There are very few things that are certain in this market - apart from one, and that is that small displacement diesels are dead. I think everything else is fair play, so we'll experiment," says Marchionne. In the city car class, manufacturers will have to reach a purchase price for hybrid tech that's similarly as low as gasoline and diesel powered small cars. But creating full hybrids out of the 500 and the Panda would render them so expensive, it would be lethal for Fiat.

The solution will most likely be a 48-volt "mild" hybrid system, which can create some of the mileage gains of a full hybrid system but at much less cost. "I think hybrids are inevitable," Marchionne says. "The question is not the technology, it's a question of the cost and whether the consumer will pay. We will have to play with a variety of solutions."

Among that variety: Could replacing the diesel model in Europe with the 48-volt system lead to sales of that system in the US, as an alternative or even replacement for the all-electric Fiat 500? All we know is, Marchionne in the past has bemoaned the EV model as a loss leader.

The next-generation Fiat 500 is expected to reach production in 2019.


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