Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has never been one to mince words, and at the 2018 North American International Auto Show, after Ford Motor Company announced a plan to increase its electrification investments to $11 billion in order to fund 40 new electrified vehicle models, Marchionne spoke freely about why that’s perhaps not the most pragmatic course of action.
“I don’t know of a [carmaker] that is making money selling electric vehicles unless you are selling them at the very, very high end of the spectrum,” the FCA CEO said at a press conference. “Whenever we end up going to auto shows, the intensity with which we make these proclamations goes up exponentially.”
Marchionne said that it’s foolish for automakers to set deadlines for themselves with regard to electrified and autonomous vehicles, as no one knows what the future of motoring will look like. For that reason, Marchionne says he will remain “technology neutral,” only investing in electrification to the extent necessitated by rising fuel-economy standards. So far, FCA hasn’t made many big bets on autonomy, either; its only big brushes with self-driving tech have been in the form of selling Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo, and teaming with BMW and Intel to develop an autonomy platform..
Ford and GM, meanwhile, have both poured significant time and money into both technologies. Beside its new, $11-billion commitment to electrification, Ford has also resolved to launch a fully-autonomous car for rideshare and ride-hailing services in 2021. GM has been even more ambitious, pledging to bring out 20 new battery-electric vehicles by 2023 and press self-driving cars into service in at least one city by 2019.
“These proclamations that we hear about the advent of electrification and artificial intelligence and the inevitable association of artificial intelligence with electrification are all things which at best are conjecture,” FCA’s CEO said. “So making an announcement at the Detroit auto show that we’re going to have X-number of vehicles that are electrified in the future… is that a wise economic thing to say? The answer is probably ‘no.'”
(Source: The Detroit News)