So, the deal was supposed to work like this: The government takes over Chrysler, then sells a big chunk of it to Fiat. In return, Chrysler would give us all these cool, American-made electric cars that would turn the planet sparkly, and make the unicorns smile.
If you’re tooling around in a Chrysler electric vehicle in a few years, you’ll still be driving an American car.
While some other companies are looking to foreign battery suppliers, Chrysler said Monday that it’s going to stay all-American. It announced it is choosing A123 Systems, a Massachusetts company, as its battery supplier. A123 will make the battery packs for Chrysler’s wave of electric vehicles at a new plant in Michigan. The first will hit the streets in 2010, says Lou Rhodes, vice president of advanced vehicle engineering for Chrysler. With Monday’s announcement, Chrysler is “that much closer” to getting its vehicle on the road.
Of course, the news that it could generate more American jobs could play well in Washington, D.C., where Chrysler is under the gun from the Obama administration to close its deal with Italy’s Fiat and take other drastic steps if it wants up to $6 billion in additional government loans.
How’s that working out for us?
Chrysler has disbanded the engineering team that was trying to bring three electric models to market as a rush job, Automotive News reports today. Chrysler cited its devotion to electric vehicles as one of the key reasons why the Obama administration and Congress needed to give it $12.5 billion in bailout money, the News points out.
The change of heart on electric vehicles has come under Fiat. At a marathon presentation of Chrysler’s five-year strategy, CEO Sergio Marchionne talked about just about everything on Chrysler’s plate last week except its earlier electric-car plans. With the group’s disbanding, Chrysler’s electric plans will be melded into Fiat’s. Marchionne is apparently no fan of electric power:
He says electrics will only make up 1% or 2% of Fiat sales by 2014 and that he doesn’t put a lot of faith in the technology until battery developments are pushed forward.
Now, the unicorns are crying. And considering the money we shelled out, we should be, too.