While many automakers have dedicated their modern operations to creating buzz-worthy technologies, electric or electric assist vehicles are paraded as the new faces of the car industry. Since emerging out of bankruptcy, Chrysler Group’s few years have been spent refining the back to basics of today’s motoring. Building a group of stylistically refreshed vehicles and a competitive engine with their Pentastar V-6, Chrysler stride back to profitably might cost the American automaker a power play in zero emissions vehicle development. On May 1st, Chrysler’s goal is finally being realized as the automaker recorded 116 million dollars in profit; their first gain since the 2009 bankruptcy recovery.
Recent signs have reflected a course steering away from electric vehicle solutions. One of the automakers who engaged in the creation of the two-mode hybrid transmission, Chrysler has discontinued their use of the electric-assist solution through the ceased production of the Chrysler Aspen sport utility vehicle after 2009. Plans were also cancelled on the hybrid-version of the current generation Ram pickup. Announced on the 26th of April, Chrysler took another troubling step for eco-friendly Mopar fans by offloading their zero emission vehicle subsidiary GEM (Global Electric Motorcars).
Polaris Industries, a lead recreational and utility product builder of snowmobiles as well as ATVs, has entered into an agreement with Chrysler Group to take over GEM by the end of June. No financial terms of the deal have been announced by either Chrysler, Polaris or Global Electric Motorcars. Created in 1998, GEM has built over 45,000 examples sold under the NHTSA classification as low-speed vehicles. Street legal vehicles traveling at maximum speeds up to 25 miles per hour, the GEM product line-up spans from a pickup-like utility model to a 6-passenger commuter. While their cars appear like glorified golf carts, seat belts, headlights and windshield wipers are built into GEM vehicles allowing travel on most roads with a posted speed limit under 35 miles per hour.
Limited not only in velocity, these vehicles obtain only about 30 miles on a single battery charge. A difficult vehicle to accommodate to modern American driving habits relegates the GEM name to well within city centers or campus-like environments. A shining moment for the GEM brand was the deployment of 30 vehicles at the St Petersburg, Russia G8 world conference in 2006. It is unclear what steps Polaris will take once purchasing Global Electric Motorcars. Presently, Polaris already produces a neighbourhood vehicle called the Breeze.
Relieving themselves of the GEM company they created 13 years ago, Chrysler’s has indicated they will direct attention to their “core automobile business”. Of course, GEM has never been a core brand to the Mopar image (Chrysler fans could even be forgiven if they have never heard of the car brand); the departure from the electric vehicle company does leave questions on Chrysler’s intentions for alternative powertrain usage.
Though Chrysler has no 2011 model year electric or even hybrid gas/electric cars, the American automaker is not completely abandoning the pursuit of zero emission vehicles. For summer of this year, the Ram truck brand will offer a plug-in hybrid version of the full-sized pickup for fleet customers. Chrysler’s partnership with Fiat is also expected to bring a new crop of electric powered vehicles to the United States including a zero emissions version of the Fiat 500 for 2012. The prospect of a new Fiat-based commercial van being introduced to the Chrysler’s North American Ram line-up could also bred another electric powertrain choice for businesses. Regrettably, though, the consumer offerings for alternative propulsion will be very scarce from Chrysler.
Information source: Chrysler Group, Global Electric Motorcars
Photo source: Chrysler Group