Founded in late 2014, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles alliance isn’t doing particularly well, despite initial high hopes and what appeared to be a solid five-year production plan. With Jeep reported to do better than the entire group, FCA needs to act fast if it wants to keep up with the likes of GM, Toyota, and the Volkswagen Group or even avoid facing a second bankruptcy. Company CEO Sergio Marchionne is well aware of that and devised a new five-year plan that revolves around launching a host of plug-in hybrid vehicles. This is far from surprising, but interestingly enough, Marchionne wants Maserati to lead this offensive with full electrification from 2019 onward.
The Italian boss didn’t have much info to share, but it seems that the plan is for all Maserati vehicles launched in 2019 and beyond to plug-in hybrid or all-electric drivetrains. “When it completes the development of its next two models, it will effectively switch all of its portfolio to electrification,” he told journalists. “As these products come up for renewal post 2019, it will start launching vehicles which are all-electric and which embody, I think, what will be considered state of the art technology.” In addition to that, more than half the FCA fleet will be electrified in some way by 2022.
The current Maserati lineup includes four models, the Ghibli, Levante, Quattroporte, and GranTurismo, so the big question is which are the two cars slated to become the first Maserati hybrid. With the GranTurismo set to be replaced in a year or so, it’s safe to assume that the upcoming Alfieri will get an electric motor in addition to the gasoline powerplant. The current Quattroporte is also five years old as of 2017, so it’s safe to assume it’s the second car on the list.
But the order is not very important really. What’s important here is that the Ghibli and Levante will also get hybrid drivetrains. With the SUV only a year old, 2019 seems like the right year for a facelift and a new, hybrid drivetrain.
So why is FCA so quick to jump on the electrification bandwagon? Well, for starters, things aren’t going too well for the group. FCA needs new products, but it also needs to appeal to a broader range. And for the time being, its hybrid and electric lineup are very limited. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been slow to adopt electrification compared to other major groups. Making matters worse, the all-electric Fiat 500e lost the company a great deal of cash (around $10,000 for each vehicle). It’s pretty bleak right now, but FCA needs to start somewhere and it’s better to join the party later than never.