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Marchionne: Chrysler will get into hybrid game

by Bill Cawthon on

According to a story in this week’s print edition of Automotive News, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says the company will have to invest in hybrid technology to meet the U.S. government’s 2025 fuel economy standards.

A hybrid Chrysler 300 is already in development and Marchionne has talked bout other hybrids. There is also the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Ram pickup developed with the U.S. Department of Energy that Chrysler has delivered to select fleets as part of a three-year evaluation project. Chrysler has said repeatedly that the PHEV Ram wasn’t going into production, but that could change.

Marchionne, seemingly alone of CEOs the U.S. automakers, has been critical of hybrids, pointing out they are expensive and don’t sell well, but admits they are necessary.

“I have no other way of getting to the 2025 numbers than by going to hybrids,” Marchionne was quoted as saying.

The hybrids will be part of a program that includes more new diesels for the U.S. A diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee is planned for 2013 and diesels could also find their way into Chrysler’s large sedans.

Marchionne also said that offering engines that could run on compressed natural gas (CNG) could help Chrysler’s corporate average fuel economy. Allpar reported a CNG-powered Ram 2500 was already available but, in a recent webchat, Ram CEO Fred Diaz said they were not currently offered. Ford offers a CNG conversion prep package for the Transit Connect and Honda has begun selling its CNG-powered Civic to the consumer market for the first time.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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