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The latest news from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) about their plans to go electric and produce a new lineup of hybrid vehicles from FCA is slowly coming to a head. Over the last several weeks, FCA has doubled down on their plans with the same vigor as the automobile group did when it invested $30 million to add major upgrades to its Chelsea Proving Grounds test track in Chelsea, Michigan to turn it into an autonomous car testing facility. FCA recently invested into a self-driving car startup, Aurora Innovation, but didn’t stop there. With the dead merger proposal between FCA and Renault-Nissan, it’s pretty clear FCA was planning to benefit from their successful hybrid vehicles, because the next partnership to get some ink was between FCA and ENGIE and Enel X. Next on the to-do list is to reintroduce an oldie but a goodie now that hybrid technology is gaining favor.
It’s Time for a Plan
When FCA first decided to start going electric, they had a game plan. (1) FCA planned to invest $10 billion into electric vehicle development between 2018 – 2022, (2) place a focus of that investment into its major breadwinners – Jeep, Ram, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo, (3) produce 14 electric vehicles and four battery-electric vehicles for Jeep by 2021, (4) compete with Tesla with electric versions of the Maserati, (5) move away from diesels and methane-powered engines, (6) mix up SRT lineups with electric vehicles, and (7) expand the Fiat 500e model. It’s a lot, but FCA has started to work towards these goals, while losing some.
Striking a deal with their competitor, Tesla and FCA pooled their vehicles together to meet the strict carbon-dioxide emission standards of the European Union. That must have hurt. Regardless, FCA has already enacted the “Maserati Blue” Program, set to redesign four cars, including the next-generation Quattroporte and the Levante SUV. The latter is borrowing technology from the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid for the Maserati. When it comes to mixing up SRT and electric vehicles, Dodge is getting an electric vehicle and will be putting an end to its high-performance engine lineup by 2020.
14 hybrid and electric vehicles by Jeep feels like a long shot, but their debut of the plug-in hybrid Jeep Compass and plug-in hybrid Jeep Renegade at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show showed that the automaker is well underway on bringing alternative fuel choices to the lineup. The other vehicle mentioned was the Fiat 500e, a vehicle that didn’t do so well. The Fiat 500e was sold in the states for some time but eventually blinked out of existence. Now that FCA has all these new partnerships, it’s time to take another shot at the electric Fiat 500.
Calling it the BEV 500 model, FCA will be investing about $800 million into the production of a battery-electric Fiat 500 at the Mirafiori plant in Turin, northern Italy. Why Italy? Not only is it the birthplace of the Fiat 500, but FCA also has plans to invest 5 billion euros in Italy by 2021, with the Mirafiori plant producing the bulk of their alternative fuel lineup - 80,000 500 EV units.
Whether the new 500 BEV model will come to America is unclear after the failed Fiat 500e. For those that want to keep in the know, follow NowCar on social media.