Part of the reason Fiat Chrysler has been slow to invest in electric and hybrid powertrain technologies is company CEO Sergio Marchionne isn’t a huge supporter of them. High development capital and lack of consumer interest are two aspects playing into his dislike of hybrids and EVs – but they aren’t the only contributing factors.
Speaking to Automotive News, Marchionne said EV and hybrids will make it so OEMs like FCA have less quality control over powertrain parts and components. Because outside suppliers will be the ones providing automakers with batteries and electric motors, they will have less control over how those components are assembled.
“The bad thing and a great thing about electrification is that most of it will rely on components being provided by suppliers to the industry and not by us,” Marchionne said. “The single largest drawback to electrification to us as OEMs is that we’re no longer in control of the components side; all batteries will be made by others.”
The 16 kWh battery pack that drives the electric motors in the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is provided by LG Chem, an offshoot of the Seoul-based LG Corporation. LG Chem also provides the battery cells for other hybrid and electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt and Bolt, Nissan Leaf and Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid, among many more.
Some automakers are investing heavily so they don’t have to rely on third-party suppliers to provide them with batteries and motors. Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla recently opened its massive ‘Gigafactory’ in Nevada where it plans to churn out enough batteries for 500,000 electric vehicles annually. The Gigafactory will enable Tesla to have total quality control over its batteries and will also save it money once it is producing the battery packs on a mass scale. Tesla has partnered with Samsung to help produce the battery packs.
Marchionne’s right in saying that automakers will lose some quality control when dealing with motor and battery suppliers. Tesla is smart to make an early investment in the tech, but it’s also risky to invest in it early on when it’s not known how the sector is going to advance. Time will tell if Marchionne’s apprehensiveness in regards to EVs will hurt or help FCA going forward.