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Chrysler Reworks EV Program

November 10, 2009

DETROIT --- Chrysler Group LLC is in the process of restructuring its program to produce electric vehicles, the Detroit News reported Nov. 9. The automaker is working to develop hybrids and EVs for its own brands and for partner Fiat SpA. 

Chrysler's new five-year business and product plan has revealed a new electric vehicle strategy for the company. 

The automaker's lineup of planned electric vehicles has changed, and it has also adopted Fiat's product development system. As a result, there has been a redistribution of engineers who were previously grouped together in a division known as ENVI under Lou Rhodes' leadership, the newspaper reported. That division has been absorbed into the normal vehicle development program, said Chrysler spokesman Nick Cappa. 

Under the new management of Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne, the EV product lineup and delivery targets have been readjusted. However, Rhodes continues to oversee EV development for both Chrysler and Fiat. 

The automaker still plans to offer a two-mode hybrid version of the Dodge Ram pickup next year. That will be followed by a plug-in hybrid Ram and a plug-in hybrid minivan in 2011. These vehicles will be part of a test fleet of 220 hybrids for which Chrysler drew a $70 million government grant, the Detroit News reported. 

But plans no longer call for the Dodge Circuit sports car to become the first pure electric vehicle from the automaker. That distinction will belong to a commercial van from Fiat, due in late 2011 or 2012, according to the five-year business and product plan. That van will likely be the Fiat Doblo. 

Marchionne said Chrysler EV strategy is still under review. EVs are expected to represent 1 to 2 percent of total volume by 2014, as the industry continues to refine battery technology.

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