With the mandate to lower carbon emissions in Europe rapidly approaching, automakers on the continent are making the shift to zero-emissions products, mostly battery-electric vehicles, with the latest being Fiat.
Officials at the Fiat Chrysler-owned brand said by the end of next year 60% brand’s line-up will be electrified, either hybrid or full electric.
“By end-2021, out of all Fiat models offered, 60% will be electrified, better than the market average,” Luca Napolitano, head for EMEA for Fiat, Lancia and Abarth brands, said in a recorded web presentation Tuesday.
The shift, while necessary, is somewhat amusing as Fiat Chrsyler’s now-deceased former chief Sergio Marchionne didn’t care for electric vehicles. Ultimately, he changed his mind, putting the development and production of several EVs into his final five-year product plan. However, the company has been a laggard in the arena.
Fortunately, the merger with PSA is expected to help accelerate the FCA’s EV development, once it’s finally settled early in 2021. However, the automaker isn’t sitting idly by, waiting for PSA to come in and solve its problems.
Earlier this year, Fiat introduced the fully electric Nuova 500 small car, as well as hybrid versions of its 500 and Panda models, along with hybrid Y, Lancia’s only vehicle currently on offer. Additionally, there are more Fiat models that will be offered as hybrids going forward, including the 500X compact SUV and the Tipo sedan.
The company got serious about electrification before the merger talks with France’s PSA ever began, starting with the hiring of Micky Bly as its global powertrain chief. Bly headed up General Motors team that brought the Chevrolet Volt to the market.
In a previous interview with TheDetroitBureau.com, Bly said that FCA will try to reposition itself as one of the industry’s leaders in electrification “over the next 12 to 18 months.”
“We’re not leaders now,” he said Bly, who didn’t offer specifics at the times, only assurances, “but we will be soon.” Despite progress coming slowly, FCA hasn’t been entirely without electrified products in recent times.
The all-electric Fiat 500e made its debut during the 2013 model-year. And though Marchionne seemed to be speaking half in jest when he asked consumers not to buy it – because it cost $10,000 more to build than Fiat could sell it for – potential buyers took him seriously, demand barely registering as an asterisk on the sales charts.
FCA followed up three years later with the Pacifica Hybrid, which is actually a plug-in, rather than a conventional hybrid. And 2019 saw the launch of FCA’s Jeep Wrangler with a “mild,” or 48-volt hybrid system.
However, it would seem that Bly’s predictions about the company’s direction are coming to fruition. Aside from the aforementioned Fiat offerings, Jeep rolled out its new hybrid Wrangler, the 4xe, this year.
In all, the company expects to launch more than 30 electrified nameplates by 2022. The 2020 calendar year saw seven new EVs in the FCA global line-up, including a number of electrified Jeep vehicles, a second-generation Fiat 500 BEV, Fiat Ducato BEV and Maserati’s first hybrid, the Ghibli introduced in July.
Maserati’s hybrid is just the beginning as the brand plans to be completely battery-electric by 2025. It also will launch a hybrid version of its second SUV, the Grecale, next year, CEO Davide Grasso said recently.
Initially, the Grecale will be available with either a conventional gas, or a hybrid-electric powertrain. Later on, an all-electric model will follow, according to the automaker.
And still more battery-based products are in the pipeline, according to Grasso. “The new Gran Turismo and Gran Cabrio models will be electrified, too,” he said during the webcast, adding that, “All our line-up will be electrified in the next five years.”
Moving forward, all-electric Maseratis will be dubbed “Folgore,” the Italian word for lighting. The Gran Turismo and Gran Cabrio are expected to be the first all-electric offerings from the brand, ahead of the Grecale.