Mike Duhaime, Chrysler electric vehicle chief, said that EVs will play an important role in the automaker’s future.
Duhaime, Chevrolet Volt’s powertrain chief engineer, left GM in July 2012, after 33 years with the automaker, to become Chrysler’s global director for electrified propulsion and engineering. The Fiat 500e, the automaker’s first EV, recently went on sale in California.
During the first half of the year US customers purchased 257,820 gasoline-electric hybrids, but neither Fiat nor Chrysler sold any of those cars. Duhaime said he sees in Chrysler broader responsibilities, a chance to develop new EVs and an exciting culture.
“The 500e is just the first step,” Duhaime said. “There are battery electric vehicles in our future. Coming here … I had the opportunity to do some things I always wanted to do at GM … and the culture is fantastic.”
One of the reasons for which Chrysler was quite slow in developing EVs was because of the US Department of Energy which delayed loans aimed at improving fuel economy, the year following the US automaker’s exit from the bankruptcy restructuring in 2009. Chrysler decided to continue the development without the government’s help.
Several months ago Chrysler introduced the stop-start technology as a choice in its Ram 1500 pickup, but it plans to introduce the system to other models in the following years. Stop-start technology is able to improve fuel-economy by 15% and the US automaker aims at introducing the technology in 90% of its lineup by 2017.