Is Chrysler Ready to Join the EV Party?

Is Chrysler ready to join the EV party?
Is Chrysler ready to join the EV party?

Despite the fact that many companies such as Chrysler have been highly critical of hybrid and electric vehicles, it seems as though the American giant is finally looking to join the EV party. Eagle eyed journalists have spotted a number of entries on the company's website which suggest that Chrysler is looking for engineers with particular skills in hybrid and electric powered vehicles. So is this a major shift in policy or are there secret developments afoot?

At this moment in time, Chrysler has limited exposure to the electric vehicle market in the shape of the Fiat 500e, produced by the company's partner. However it does look as if this is about to change and the company could be starting a new journey through the electric vehicle minefield.

Picking up the baton

Many people will be surprised to learn that it has been five years since Chrysler built a hybrid vehicle, and despite considering EV versions of some of its award-winning vehicles, this project was pulled back in 2009. Indeed the company disbanded an EV development unit in 2009 amid suggestions that it was looking to leave the electric vehicle movement behind forever.

Quote from ElectricForum.com : "In what is certainly going to cause confusion amongst consumers around the world, the Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet’s much acclaimed vehicle, has been launched in India under the name Chevrolet Beat. It is unclear at this moment in time why the company chose to change the name of his vehicle despite the fact that it will be the company's major blockbuster in the car industry during 2013/14.Why do car manufacturers need to make things even more complicated?"

The simple fact is that the electric vehicle movement has gained significant power over the last decade, means consumers are now more amenable to the thought of an electric vehicle and governments around the world have introduced an array of financial incentives. Against this background it is no surprise to learn that Chrysler is, slowly but surely looking towards the EV market in the future and looking to recruit those with particular skills in this area.

Does this add to EV momentum?

Over the last few weeks we have seen a number of "non-believers" reintroduce themselves to the idea of electric powered vehicles. We have seen a number of previously critical companies suggesting they are now looking towards the number one position in the EV market going forward. There is certainly momentum gaining with regards to EV sales, battery issues are now fading and it seems as though government around the world have committed themselves lock, stock and barrel to an EV future.

It is difficult to think of any other time in the EV industry when momentum has been so strong, media feedback has been so positive and consumers have appeared willing to at least contemplate electric vehicle transport. There have been times when the industry has shot itself in the foot due to mismanagement, a lack of support, and in many ways a lack of conviction but this time does seem very different.

Conclusion

The fact that Chrysler now appears to have given up the idea of leaving electric vehicles in the past has certainly caught many in the industry by surprise. The company has looked at EV and hybrid vehicles in the past and decided to walk away from mass production, although the recent momentum in the industry seems to have been a game changer in the eyes of Chrysler.

It will be interesting to see which vehicles the company converts to electric power, which hybrids make it to the market, and how much money, time and effort the company is willing to focus on electric vehicle travel.