Chrysler Logo, courtesy of FCA Media

Guess Who’s Building a Plug-in Hybrid Minivan?

Looks like the company that built the market for minivans is making the next logical evolution in the platform.  Chrysler, according to the fine folks at The Detroit Bureau.com, will introduce a plug-in hybrid minivan at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show.

Why this hasn’t been done by any automaker is still a mystery to me.  It has to be–to me–an accounting decision.  I understand the conservatism that reigns in automotive companies, but it would be hard for me to think that an automotive engineer finally had the idea to make a hybrid minivan.  They’re a pretty creative bunch, when you let them loose.

Chrysler Grand Voyager, courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Chrysler Grand Voyager, courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

 

For the bean counters, I’m sure the argument went something like “why interfere with what’s working well?”  To me, the answer would be “to sell more of what’s working well–and beat the competition to the punch.”

The argument also could have been around loss of market share to crossovers as well.  It is a reality, as we own a crossover.  But our crossover looks like a minivan.  If it weren’t for the 7-speed transmission, the curb weight of the vehicle would require refueling like a big SUV.  All things equal, had we been able to choose between a decent looking hybrid minivan and a crossover, we would have gone with the minivan.  At the end of the day, based on what the vehicle’s purpose was, we’d have gone with the economy.

And so would other families–not all, but I’m thinking a lot.

Let me stop projecting. From the article:

…Al Gardner, president and CEO, Chrysler brand – FCA North America , said during an interview at the Chicago Auto Show, the plug-in hybrid is definitely part of the Chrysler brand’s future product plan…

 

…FCA’s new five-year plan calls for building Chrysler into a brand that can “face off” directly in six key segments with Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, Honda and Nissan. It will require new products, such as the plug-in electric minivan, according to Gardner, who declined to discuss other future products except to note the plan included a compact vehicle….

 

If there’s a vehicle with lots of space to hide a battery pack, it’s a minivan.  If there’s a segment that is in tune with both saving on gas AND saving the planet it’s Moms, kids and families.  Chrysler could have had this market years ago.  Toyota and Honda never made a move in that direction.  Ford abandoned minivans years ago.  The hole has been there for any one of them to run through.  Good for Chrysler to be the first.

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Sebastian James

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