Fiat Chrysler’s first serious hybrid-electric was the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan; it blasted onto the hybrid scene fully developed, after having been extensively tested, refined, and retuned. Journalist-reviewers saw high mileage, good acceleration, surprising cornering, and smooth journeys.


Some were surprised to see a rather different hybrid system in the Jeep Renegade and Compass , but it made sense: Jeep needed a serious all-wheel-drive solution. Still, that led some to say that the Pacifica PHEV design was a dead end.  In contrast, sources told us of a second-generation Pacifica PHEV to be announced soon. No details have leaked out, but clarity should be coming in the next month or two.

Really, none of these approaches can be a “dead end;” 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.

The idea behind this ambitious program is to let FCA 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. While it’s taking a long time for the first products to come out, in the long run, it will let FCA be faster and more innovative—and may let the company finally stop buying efficiency credits from Tesla.