TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Chrysler and Fiat will broaden their North American lineups with more diesels and small turbocharged gasoline engines instead of investing in electrified powertrains, said Bob Lee, global powertrain head of Fiat and Chrysler.
Speaking at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars, Lee said consumers don't value hybrids and other electrified vehicles enough to pay for the added cost of battery packs, electric motors and chargers.
"Many customers want to reduce CO2 but they aren't willing to change their lifestyle or pay the cost -- yet," he said. That might not happen for another decade, he said.
That argument meshes with the company's product line. Chrysler and Fiat do not have a hybrid powertrain and offer only one electrified model in North America: the Fiat 500e, which is available only in California for the same monthly lease payment as a gasoline-powered Fiat 500.
When Fiat took over Chrysler in 2009, it brought an array of diesel engines already in use globally in a variety of Fiat brands sold around the world.
Chrysler is just now launching a 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel in the Grand Cherokee with an EPA rating of 22 city/30 highway for two-wheel-drive models.
The engine produces 420 pounds-feet of torque and 240 hp.
Two other diesels are coming this year. The Ram ProMaster cargo van arriving this summer will be available with an optional 3.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel. The Ram 1500 pickup scheduled to arrive late this fall will be available with the same 3.0-liter V-6 diesel as the Grand Cherokee.
Diesels and hybrids deliver roughly the same fuel economy gain over gasoline engines, between 20 and 30 percent on most vehicles. But diesels offer better performance, which Lee says gives them an advantage.