Fiat-Chrysler to go after Tesla with new electric vehicle program

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The company is ramping up EV production and investment

Only a few years ago, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was decisively against entering into the electric vehicle market. When the company released its first all-electric model, he publicly expressed his hope that few consumers would buy the vehicle, as the company lost over $10,000 on each one.

However, Marchionne has changed his tune since then, as he recently unveiled the company’s five-year strategy at a meeting in Italy, touting a rather extensive line of electric vehicles.

Not only will all future Fiat models soon be all-electric, both Alfa Romeo and Maserati will offer hybrid or plug-in versions of all future vehicles.

“Everything gets electrified,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati. “Look at our product portfolio and you see we’re going after Tesla.”

Breaking into the electric market

Regulators in the electric car market have been pushing for cleaner, more energy-efficient vehicles on the roads. To meet these conditions, many luxury brands have released “compliance cars” -- vehicles that may not necessarily meet buyers’ expectations but comply with all regulations. Fiat’s e500 was a compliance car -- the same car Marchionne encouraged consumers not to buy.

However, by introducing electric options in the luxury market, Fiat-Chrysler is hoping to attract consumers with the countless advantages electric models have. According to a report by NBCNews, electric motors “develop maximum wheel-spinning torque the moment they’re turned on.” One of the only constraints is the amount of traction drivers get on their tires.

According to Kuniskis, the electric luxury models will have “a performance advantage.”

Kuniskis also discussed Fiat-Chrysler’s new “performance ladder” strategy. The bottom rung will have models with four-cylinder engines. The higher up the ladder you move, the more powerful the vehicles’ engines are; these include six, eight, and twin-turbo eight engines. The top of the ladder will have electric models, where Kuniskis says there will be “more horsepower and quicker 0 to 60 times.”

What’s to come for Fiat-Chrysler

Over the course of the next few years, Fiat-Chrysler will be releasing a number of new electric vehicles. Of the vehicle lines, Maserati tops the list when it comes to new releases, as it will be adding four new electric vehicles by 2022.

The company will soon be rolling out an all-electric four-door sedan -- very similar to the Tesla Model S -- but an all-electric Alfieri coupe is expected to be released first.

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