According to FCA market research, semantics is critical when it comes to hybrids and electric vehicles.
FCA believes that referring to the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid as a ‘PHEV’ would mislead consumers to believe that the vehicle can leave them stranded, which it can, if the battery dies and they’ve run out of gas (like any standard car). So, the brand will simply refer to the Pacifica PHEV as the Pacifica Hybrid, except in California, because Californians en masse understand what a PHEV is.
Yes, this is real.
To be clear, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (or PHEV if you’re reading this in California) is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, meaning it can run entirely on battery-generated energy (EV mode), and then switches to a gasoline engine when the battery has been depleted. However, the battery can be charged by plugging in the vehicle at a charging station. Traditional hybrids, on the other hand, don’t have this option, and merely alternate back and forth between a gas engine and an electric motor to achieve optimal fuel economy.
According to Tim Kuniskis, the head of Fiat Chrysler brands in the U.S., plug-ins are ‘cool’ to Californians. “People here see it as a benefit and understand that’s worth more,” said Kuniskis in a recent interview with Bloomberg, during which he explained the rationale behind the different marketing approach for California versus the other 49 states.