StaffAllpar HomeMore NewsCarsTrucksUpcomingRepairsTest drives

Chrysler Hybrids: Past and Future

by David Zatz on

It’s been around six years since Chrysler produced its last hybrid-electric car, and that was based on a collaboration with General Motors and BMW. It died when fuel prices and car sales both fell.

The Dodge Durango and “essentially the same, but restyled” Chrysler Aspen hybrids hit the roads using a clever design, created to minimize the cost of spreading hybrid powertrains throughout the entire product line. Instead of creating a system for each car separately, which would be more efficient, they shoved the working parts into the transmission case — two motors, gas-engine gears, and CVT for the motors — which could in theory be shared with other compatible vehicles (Rams, Dakotas, and Grand Cherokees, in this case). While it produced fuel-economy gains, it never went anywhere at Chrysler or GM.

2008 hybrid SUV

Today, Chrysler is facing greater fuel-economy challenges than most automakers, with a large-vehicle heavy image and sales mix. The CEO, Sergio Marchionne, has already said that the next minivans will be the first new Chrysler hybrids, and has hinted that the planned AWD models will either give up Stow ’n’ Go or use electric motors for the rear wheels and gasoline power for the fronts.

two mode hybrid transmission

One wonders if Chrysler could use lessons from the past. Hybridizing the entire nine-speed lineup would produce immediate gains that would propel the company into the green, so to speak, for CAFE requirements, instead of forcing it to buy credits from other automakers — if customers bought the vehicles, and if they were cost effective, two rather large “ifs.” Chrysler is not known for its fuel efficiency (even when it beats all comers), and image is everything — if those who care about gas mileage automatically turn away, it will be hard to sell hybrids. That said, turning back to 2008, if it can be done, could slash development expenses, at the cost of some efficiency.

The company is moving forward, slowly, with first-generation stop-start technology to give way to second-generation belt-starter-alternator stop-start systems soon. Hybrids are coming in a year. We have yet to find out how quickly, and how far, they will spread through the lineup — and whether customers will be willing to buy them in an era of low gasoline prices. See our story on the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen hybrids.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


Tornado following the Hurricane?
rff 2019 ram 1500
See the clear, sharp 2019 Ram video; no crosshairs?
2018 jeep compass gauges
Oops: Compass “bright dash” recall

More Mopar Car
and Truck News

Some popular Allpar pages





Dodge Demon

2018 Wrangler JL



Staff details/contactsTerms of ServiceInformation is presented to the best of our knowledge. Plans change and sometimes mistakes are made. Decisions or purchases made based on this site's verbiage or images are done at the reader's own risk. Also see the Allpar News archives, 1997-2008 • Copyright © 2008-2017, Allpar LLC. All rights reserved. • Mopar, Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, HEMI, and certain other names are trademarks of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.