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Executive says consumers aren't willing to pay more for electric vehicles and might not be willing for a decade

The global powertrain head for Fiat and Chrysler, Bob Lee, recently said that while the two automotive manufacturers will be expanding North American lineups, EVs would not be a priority. Lee said that consumers aren't placing value on hybrids and EVs in enough volume to pay for the added cost of the battery packs, electric motors, and chargers.

Fiat 500e

"Many customers want to reduce CO2 but they aren't willing to change their lifestyle or pay the cost -- yet," said Lee. He went on to state that it could be more than a decade before consumers are ready to pay more.
While Lee may be correct that EVs may still have a way to go before they become mainstream in the U.S., companies like Toyota and Ford have no trouble pushing hybrid vehicles to the masses.
Fiat currently sells the 500e EV, but only in the state of California due to that state’s laws that force auto manufacturers to produce “green” vehicles.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is once again available with a turbodiesel engine 

Lee indicates that consumers have shown more of an interest in paying for smaller turbocharged gasoline engines and turbodiesel engines. Chrysler sub-brand Jeep is using a 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel in its revised Grand Cherokee and the same engine will find it way under the hood of the Ram 1500 pickup later this fall.
Chrysler has also developed a new nine-speed transmission that will be used across its family of vehicles to improve fuel efficiency.

Source: Auto News

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The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By DesertCat on 8/13/2013 10:40:04 AM , Rating: 2
I've actually been looking into some of the info on that turbo diesel as an option. The time to get a new vehicle is approaching and the wife would like me to get something that could tow a small travel trailer. In the balance, I don't want to have to pay for crappy gas mileage the rest of the time since the vehicle will also be used for commuting. Hybrids are out as virtually none of them have any towing capacity (and no to mild hybrid trucks where I pay 5K extra to get 2 more mpg). So...

The two wheel drive version of the eco-diesel can pull 7400 lbs. That's in a reasonable range so long as the trailer shopping is done intelligently (many models in the 4000-4500 GVW range). Now a person isn't going to be flying over mountain passes with a trailer behind like you could with a beefier model, but this is about trade-offs and a once or twice a year use. The Grand Cherokee is rated at 29 mpg on the highway with that engine. Very nice. It is not available on the lower end models, however, and a person has to step up to the Limited model to get the eco-diesel. All told, a person is probably looking at spending ~38K to get one of these.

I'll be interested to see what the pricing and mileage stats will be on the Ram 1500 when it comes out this fall. I figure the mileage will be a little better since an SUV weighs more than a truck.

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By DesertCat on 8/13/2013 10:45:45 AM , Rating: 2
Correction/addition on my mileage info: 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway for 2-wheel drive. 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway for the 4-wheel drive. According to a Car & Driver article.

By Samus on 8/13/2013 3:21:12 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, 30mpg for that Jeep is pretty intriguing. I'd just have to coax myself into trusting a Chrysler product again.

I know they've changed, but I rented a Dodge Charger and yes, I know it was rented and beaten on, but with only 6k it felt like it was falling apart. Every bump I drove over made the rear end rattle like a kitchen utensil drawer closing, and the drive shaft was already of balance or a U-joint was messed up. Unacceptable for a car with little power in 6,000 miles.

But it felt upscale inside. The transmission shifted well, I liked the lane-change blinkers (I drive mostly Ford/Mazda and they haven't caught onto that yet) and the seats were comfortable.

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By bah12 on 8/13/2013 11:05:51 AM , Rating: 2
I'm in the same boat (pun intended) with my boat. Finding anything capable of 6000+ towing with reasonable MPG is very hard. I've kicked around the Jeep as well. My issue is the payback on the Diesel.

Given 15000 miless per year driving, the difference between it and the V6 is 5MPG (best case). At current averages of 3.87 diesel and 3.54 unleaded. The yearly savings the diesel provides is $189. So given that it is a $4500 option I'm doubting it is worth the ~23 year return.

Now it does bump you from 6200 lbs to 7400, and the torque numbers are really nice. But it sure is a hard pill to swallow at that price for very infrequent towing.

By bah12 on 8/13/2013 11:25:50 AM , Rating: 2
Aww man axe that idea, no 3rd row seating :(

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By DesertCat on 8/13/2013 12:22:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that's kind of the big rub. I tend to keep vehicles for a long time, but it is a very long term payback.

That's where Ford seems to have come down on the issue. Earlier this year there were rumors that Ford was going to give the F150 an option for the 5-cylinder diesel that is available in their Transit van line. In early July they announced that it wasn't going to happen because they just didn't see the market for it. It all came down to crunching the numbers on cost of engine vs. fuel savings and saying that their customers wouldn't see a quick enough return of the investment.

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By bah12 on 8/13/2013 12:55:59 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed most people on this forumn praise diesel, but the reality is that it is a significant price increase on the base vehicle. It is a minor upgrade to MPG (EPA to EPA). Add in the delta between fuel price, and it just doesn't pay on fuel consumption alone.

Generally I'd give it back some on reliability, but this is Jeep we are talking about and rarely do they get it right the first generation (no one does really).

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By DiscoWade on 8/13/2013 1:04:46 PM , Rating: 3
Chrysler can't even get reliability right on the 100th generation, much less the 1st. If your Dodge transmission makes it to 50,000 miles without starting to act up, you are doing well. If I were to buy any Chrysler product, it would have to have a manual transmission in it.

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By FITCamaro on 8/13/2013 1:14:25 PM , Rating: 2
My parents have an 04 Hemi Durango with around 120k miles and no transmission issues.

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By FITCamaro on 8/13/2013 1:14:50 PM , Rating: 2
And for if you're not aware, that was first generation.

By Spuke on 8/13/2013 5:32:10 PM , Rating: 2
Does the Jeep have the ZF 8 speed auto in it? I might be inclined to think this will be more reliable considering how many other cars use that transmission.

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By BillyBatson on 8/13/2013 8:37:31 PM , Rating: 2
Don't the Hemi's have a different transmission over the cheaper engine/trim packages? I could be wrong but I believe it's a more durable transmission.

By FITCamaro on 8/14/2013 8:05:39 AM , Rating: 2
Well it doesn't have the same transmission as the V6. But it's not like the diesel Jeep will have the same transmission as a V6 either.

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By bah12 on 8/13/2013 5:06:51 PM , Rating: 2
That is a concern. I've known 2 people that have owned Grand Cherokee's both had full tranny and/or rear end replacements. They were under warranty, but they do have a track record for major powertrain failures. To their credit most of those issues are no longer reported, but it does give me pause.

By Reflex on 8/13/2013 5:24:50 PM , Rating: 2
The diesel versions do not come with the same tranny as the gas versions typically. My Liberty has the same tranny as the Ram 1500 rather than the normal Liberty tranny. I'd guess they did the same with the GC to handle the extra torque.

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By Reflex on 8/13/2013 2:12:08 PM , Rating: 2
I purchased a Jeep Liberty CRD in January 2006, the diesel premium was $1800 on that model and due to both better fuel economy and a reduced maintinence schedule(less frequent oil changes) it paid for itself in about two years.

That said, they sold it on the low end Sport trim, and did not force any expensive packages on you. As a result you paid literally only for the price difference on the engine. Given that, it was much easier to get a return on investment.

I'll point out a couple other factors: Diesels tend to get better than the EPA ratings and gas tends to get worse. I determined my break even point by actually calculating based on my actual average MPG plus maintenance schedule costs vs what the reported MPG for gas drivers was and their version of the maintenance schedule. I'd also add that I have had only one repair in over 120k miles, my total repair expenses are below $500 right now. And I have driven across the country half a dozen times, and half of those I was pulling a fully loaded trailer, so I haven't exactly been easy on it.

The problem with the GC CRD is that they force you to get the higher end package. If you could get it as a engine only upgrade on the Laredo I think it would be fully justified and pay for itself in just a few years. Sadly they keep insisting on making it a premium option for the GC...

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By bah12 on 8/13/2013 5:04:56 PM , Rating: 2
It would be nice if it was offered on all trims, but I'm not even taking that cost into account. Jeep wants a flat $4500 for just the engine. The whole luxury package that is also required drive the cost to $7500 total.

As I pointed out to Fit below, once you go throwing anecdotal evidence up against EPA numbers it is no longer a valid comparison. EPA is flawed no doubt, but it is the only tool we have as consumers. If you feel it is flawed X% then simply adjust the numbers and you might shave a few years off the 20+ payback.

I'm still very doubtful it will pay regardless of how aggressive you are with your evidence. For a car it really has to be 5 years or less, and 20+ is a HUGE gap to make up. Sounds like on the Liberty it was an easier sell.

FYI I'm still considering it just based on the capabilities of the setup. I'm just not trying to trick myself into some fuel cost justification that just isn't there.

By Reflex on 8/13/2013 9:16:00 PM , Rating: 2
I get your point about EPA numbers, but it really is not a controversial thing to point out that they are not accurate in measuring diesels, and that they overestimate gas ratings(although not as bad as they did prior to 2005 or so). And again, you have to look at the whole deal, diesels require oil changes only half as frequently as gas engines, have fewer problems and overall last longer. You mention a payback of 23 years, that is a worst case scenario and assumes fuel prices do not rise where even a small percentage better mileage can add up to a large total dollar savings, as well as just the general reliability advantages.

That said, right now the GC is too rich for my blood. If I were to spend that kind of money I'd just get an EV. That is probably my next vehicle anyways, and just keep the Liberty for towing and long trips. EV's pay back much much quicker than diesel now. If Tesla ever hits their $35k with 200 mile range goal, I'm sold.

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By hubb1e on 8/13/2013 3:07:26 PM , Rating: 2
This 3L V6 diesel is from Fiat and it's been used in europe for some time now. I've got no idea how reliable it's been for Fiat, but it's not 1st generation stuff.

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By bah12 on 8/13/2013 5:12:15 PM , Rating: 2
It's first gen for Jeep.

My concern isn't really for the engine so much as the tranny/rear-end, the GC has a history of being a bit weak from my personal experience with them. Pair a poorly designed rear end with that much torque and you could have a problem, they do at least require an upgraded tranny.

By Reflex on 8/13/2013 9:17:49 PM , Rating: 2
Jeeps are sold in the EU with diesel options and have been for a very long time now. People thought the diesel Liberty was a 'first gen' vehicle, but it was the same engine they had sold in the EU since 2001.

RE: The turbo diesel is an interesting option
By FITCamaro on 8/13/2013 1:13:01 PM , Rating: 2
I think the diesel can more realistically deliver its mileage rating though. And I'm sure there will be tuning that comes out that allows for even better mileage.

By bah12 on 8/13/2013 4:57:13 PM , Rating: 2
And one can get better than EPA mileage, and although anecdotally I'd agree with you, you cannot make a fair comparisons based on feelings and wishful thinking. EPA is what we have so EPA is what you should use.

Not trying to be a debby downer here, but the reality is in this scenario the payoff just isn't there.

By domboy on 8/14/2013 11:15:58 AM , Rating: 2
It's too bad you can't get one of those with a manual transmission anymore. I'm glad they're offering a diesel finally, but being auto-only is very disappointing...

Yea, but...
By Dr of crap on 8/13/2013 12:23:41 PM , Rating: 2
How will they make the CAFE numbers without hybrids, or EVs??

No one is buying in big numbers, and I think the car makers don't want to make a large quantity of them, but they NEED to have them in their line up to satisfy the CAFE numbers.

So Chrysler, Fiat what do you have in mind??

RE: Yea, but...
By Mathos on 8/13/2013 12:39:31 PM , Rating: 2
Well, long as they can get their average low end to be above 30 on their cars, it won't be hard. Thats why they've been using 6, and 8 speed trannies the last few years. Since most of their cars average 30ish mpg highway now, and thats without multi air on most of them, or direct injection, or turbo charging.

All they really need to do to increase that, is start adding direct injection to their newer engines. And DI and Turbo on to their mid size cars like the Charger, challenger, and 300. That right there would put their average up a fair amount.

RE: Yea, but...
By Reclaimer77 on 8/13/2013 2:46:00 PM , Rating: 1
How will they make the CAFE numbers without hybrids, or EVs??

As soon as we get a non-fascist Administration in the White House, I'm hoping this insane CAFE mandate will be lowered to something at least realistic.

Chrysler/Fiat is saying they don't see the rationale in making cars nobody wants, and that aren't on-par with existing vehicles.

And I see no problem with that. The Government needs to get the hell out of the car business, and let people IN the car business do what they do best.

RE: Yea, but...
By hubb1e on 8/13/2013 3:12:02 PM , Rating: 2
To be fair, we've been facist for a good while now. As you can really see from Obama's inept leadership and inability to stop the scandals, Washington is really all about the bureaucracy leading the country. The President seems to have very little input anymore.

What needs to happen is to start cutting whole departments of government since they just seem to breed when not reigned in.

RE: Yea, but...
By Reflex on 8/13/2013 4:20:42 PM , Rating: 2
Its interesting to me how watered down the term 'fascist' has become...

RE: Yea, but...
By maugrimtr on 8/14/2013 7:41:16 AM , Rating: 3
Companies who can't compete with EVs say that EVs are a low priority for them. This is news? They'd hit the market with EVs in a flash if they thought they could turn a profit in the market. EVs are selling - just not in crazy insane numbers given the incumbent ICE market and the early adopter phase where everyone targets folk with expensive models.

Seriously, does nobody study basic economics anymore? There's a curved screen article on DT with the same set of issues - new product is expensive and sold to rich people. Same pattern everywhere.

RE: Yea, but...
By Reclaimer77 on 8/14/2013 8:58:45 AM , Rating: 2
They'd hit the market with EVs in a flash if they thought they could turn a profit in the market.

Well exactly, that's the entire point!

I don't believe we should mandate that companies make something that amounts to a net-loss in profits.

Seriously, does nobody study basic economics anymore?

Certainly not anyone in the White House or most of Congress.

By btc909 on 8/13/2013 12:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
Just close the doors. Dodge is already in the works to be scrapped. Sell off the Jeep & RAM brands. Nobody cares about Chrysler anymore.

RE: Typical
By drlumen on 8/13/2013 12:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. I have no sympathy for Chrysler at all. Their investors took the company private, they went bankrupt and then got TARP funds to cover their asses.

Chrysler should have been allowed to burn...

RE: Typical
By FITCamaro on 8/13/2013 1:13:49 PM , Rating: 2
RAM is already a separate brand than Dodge. Ever notice in the commercials that they aren't called Dodge RAMs anymore?

By quiksilvr on 8/13/2013 10:29:13 AM , Rating: 4
"Its far cheaper to wait for other companies to spend R&D and just license it once the tech is cheap."

By BillyBatson on 8/13/2013 8:35:17 PM , Rating: 3
For most Americans Fiat and Chrysler are low priorities period.

Low priority
By flyingpants1 on 8/15/2013 1:52:27 AM , Rating: 2
Of course it's a low priority. GM and Nissan bet damn near everything on the future of EVs, so it follows that Chrysler/Fiat should ignore it.

By samuel1c.handel on 8/13/13, Rating: 0
Seen this movie before..
By DukeN on 8/13/13, Rating: -1
"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot

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