FiatChrysler will be one of the last major car brands to launch a full EV (Photo: FCA)
(Bloomberg) -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will reveal a fully electric vehicle based on the Chrysler Pacifica minivan at CES in Las Vegas next month as the carmaker moves to get in step with the industry’s shift toward electric vehicles.
The Italian-American carmaker will show the model at CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show and the world’s largest technology convention, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. FCA is also working on an electric Maserati sports car, which aims to compete with Tesla models, the people said. Fiat Chrysler declined to comment.
The two models mark a shift in strategy for CEO Sergio Marchionne, who has been reluctant to invest in electric cars because he thinks they won’t be profitable for at least several years. Carmakers are being pushed in multiple markets to develop electric cars to meet stricter emissions rules. Marchionne said in June that he doesn’t see electrification as the “solution for all of man’s ills,” but added that he wants to experiment more with electric drive.
FCA, which was the first major automaker to strike a deal with Alphabet Inc.’s Google to develop self-driving vehicles, has favored cooperating with tech giants to navigate the potentially profound changes in the auto industry. With 6.9 billion dlrs in net industrial debt at the end of the third quarter, the carmaker has limited resources to invest compared with its main competitors.
“A key theme for 2017 will be the increased availability of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean said. “This provides a dilemma for automakers as they sacrifice traditional cash-cow internal combustion engine sales for expensive and lower-margin electric cars, necessary to meet onerous new emissions legislation.”
FCA already sells a plug-in hybrid version of the Pacifica minivan. The Pacifica is also the model that FCA and Google are using to jointly develop self-driving vehicle systems.
Fiat said Thursday that it plans to show a new model first at CES instead of Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. CES has become a very important show for carmakers, which tend to debut high-tech models with electric drive, connected features or autonomous driving at that event.