LUCA CIFERRI

Fiat Chairman has heard enough about EVs

Luca Ciferri is chief correspondent at Automotive News Europe.Luca Ciferri is chief correspondent at Automotive News Europe.
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Fiat Chairman John Elkann says that electric mobility is receiving a disproportionate amount of media coverage.

"There are 900 million vehicles with internal combustion engine vehicles in the world and less than 100,000 EVs, but I do not see this proportion reflected in the global media coverage of the automotive sector," he said on the sidelines of Fiat S.p.A.'s general meeting on Wednesday.

It's easy to understand why the usually quiet Elkann felt moved to raise his voice. His CEO, Sergio Marchionne, said Wednesday that Fiat and Chrysler will lose more than $10,000 on every battery-powered Fiat 500 they sell. Although it plans a low volume of the 500 EV minicar, that hit will hurt the bottom line during a time when all volume automakers are battling daily to squeeze a profit out of their cars.

The $10,000 figure also puts into perspective the financial pain automakers face to improve fuel economy and remain competitive in the race to launch alternative powertrains.

To me, this race seems more like a popularity contest. Despite their limited range, incredibly high cost and the fact that their well-to-wheel CO2 emission are equal to or worse than many of today's most popular fuel-powered cars, EVs are seen being touted by some as the best solution to reducing CO2.

Meanwhile, true game-changing developments such as Fiat's new MultiAir technology, which cuts CO2 and boosts power at a fraction of the price of an EV, is virtually ignored.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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