Bailout Nation forked over $12.5 billion to Chrysler to keep them afloat and to remake their image which included $70 million in grants back in August for electric car R&D. So, how’s that working out?
There will be no electric car named Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep. At least for the forseable future. Chrysler's new owner, Fiat SpA, has pulled the plug on Chrysler's plans to build and market EV vehicles, and even hybrid vehicles.
The decision by Fiat SEO Sergio Marchionne is a major voltage reduction for Chrysler. It is also a direct slap in the face of US taxpayers, who gave Chrysler a $12.5 Billion bail-out package, in part to help float Chrysler's plans for its ENVI program to develop and market fuel efficient electric cars. In addition, the Department of Energy gave Chrysler another $70 million in grants in August for this program.
Will Fiat return the money? Unlikely.
Fiat's decision kills the Dodge Circuit (pictured), a two-seater all electric sports car that Chrysler introduced to great fanfare at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year. Chrysler announced in September 2008 that it was developing three EV models, and hoped to get them into production by 2010.
That's not happening now.
There is a possibility the new Fiat-Chrysler will pursue electric or hybrid vehicle production, but it is unlikely. Marcchione doesn't think much of electric cars. Reuters reports he told reporters and analysts that electric cars would only represent "one to two percent" of Chrysler's sales by 2014. The implication is that spending millions on R & D just isn't worth it.
What a telling indictment of electric cars that all that money spent on R&D – money that isn’t even theirs – and electric cars still aren’t worth it.