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Yes, the Pacifica Hybrid has a future

by David Zatz on

Fiat Chrysler’s first serious hybrid-electric was the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan, a major leap forward. It blasted onto the hybrid scene fully developed, after having been tested, refined, and retuned extensively, and gave journalist-reviewers high mileage, good acceleration, and smooth journeys.

Some were surprised to see a rather different hybrid system in the Jeep Renegade and Compass. Jeep needed a serious all-wheel-drive solution, and they appear to have gotten one. At least one observer went so far as to say that the Pacifica PHEV design would have one more vehicle, and then, essentially, be a dead end.

In contrast, recently sources told us of a second-generation Pacifica PHEV, to be announced soon. So far, no details have leaked out, but clarity should be coming in the next month or two.

Regardless, none of these approaches are a “dead end,” as FCA builds up its hybrid and electric expertise.  FCA has been working on all sorts of ways to hook up electric motors to the engine (via the accessory drive and the crankshaft), transmission (via the input and output shafts), and the rear axle.  In the Pacifica, one motor is connected to the crank and another to the transmission; in the Jeep, one is connected to the engine and another to the rear axle.

FCA seems to be building up its expertise, so it will be able to quickly deliver a variety of solutions, to meet just about any need on just about any car. As it does so, engineers are developing skills and experience in systems integration and problem-solving. The result should be good, long-term, for the company.

The Chrysler Pacifica is the second best-selling minivan in America this year (so far), second only to the Dodge Grand Caravan.


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