So why even bother having an EV?
The Fiat 500e isn’t new. It’s never been a strong seller and FCA admitted the only reason it sells it is because of federally mandated CAFE standards. And yet it still loses as much as $20,000 per car for each one it sells, according to CEO Sergio Marchionne in an interview with Bloomberg. That’s right. Twenty grand per car. That’s not normal in the auto industry, and yet that may work just fine for now. Marchionne doesn’t seem to be too bothered by the 500e’s financial failure. Why? He’s not convinced that EVs are the absolute end-all answer.
Just look at Tesla’s history of burning through loads of cash. But Marchionne understands the need to offer more EVs, partly “Because of the time-frame chosen in Europe, we (FCA) have to electrify,” Marchionne stated. “But if you tell me this is the answer, I say no.” So why is the guy, who’s also CEO of Ferrari, hesitant about EVs? “We need to be absolutely open about the technology solution which would prevail. The biggest fear that I see is that we will left behind. We are a very slow industry; for us to make a decision takes forever.” Call it a pragmatic conservative outlook. By contrast, Tesla CEO Elon Musk “moves at the speed of a rocket.”
For the time being, Marchionne seems to prefer to take the hit on his one and only EV and proceed with caution. Additional EVs will follow, but there’s little likelihood of FCA under his leadership taking the same course as GM that plans to electrify its entire lineup. Then again, Marchionne is due to retire in 2019. His eventual successor may plan something else entirely.