PARIS — Chrysler Group will launch a plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation Chrysler Town & Country minivan late next year.
CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed the new vehicle at the auto show here. It will arrive about a year earlier than the automaker indicated in its May 6 investor presentation. The minivan will be powered by a gasoline engine and a battery pack.
Other hybrids will follow, including a Chrysler-badged full-size crossover, according to the May 6 plan. But Marchionne warned that electrification is not a panacea to increase the fuel economy of his company’s fleet.
“I think you need to be very, very careful if you think that electrification, given its inherent limitations on range, especially in markets like the U.S., will effectively displace combustion,” he said. “It will never provide the travel distance that you require, especially based on what we know today about the storage capabilities of batteries.
“I keep on running into this fundamental economic obstacle of overcoming the cost equation of electrification. You can’t. You can’t unless there is a wholesale change and a fundamental shift in the pricing structure of cars,” Marchionne said.
Chrysler has said its next-generation minivans would be ripe for hybrids. In comments earlier this year, Chrysler brand head Al Gardner suggested that a minivan plug-in hybrid could achieve fuel economy that would rival the much smaller Toyota Prius.
The 2015 Prius is rated at 50 mpg for combined highway and city driving.
The 2014 plug-in Prius is rated at 95 mpg-e, a rating for combined use of electricity and gasoline. After the battery is depleted, the vehicle is rated at 50 mpg combined highway and city.