marchionne-and-obama.jpgby Patrick Rall

    The recently announced CAFE revisions have many Americans wondering what the future will bring with regards to drivetrain technology, as automakers are expected to hit 54.5mpg by 2025.  Many believe that electric-powered hybrids, like the Chevy Volt, and pure electric models, like the Ford Focus Electric, are the wave of the future. But while speaking recently in Traverse City, Michigan, Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne disagreed.  Mr. Marchionne stated that the super-efficient models that will help Americans reach 54+ miles per gallon will be based on gasoline and diesel drivetrains – not electric vehicles.

    Gasoline drivetrains have come a long way in the past few years with
    technology like direct injection combined with forced induction
    (turbocharging and supercharging) helping smaller engines to make bigger
    power without compromising fuel economy.  Fiat has made good use of
    this technology in many of their popular European models, with an
    emphasis on fuel economy while not ignoring performance. We can
    expect to see their technology under the hoods of Dodge products very

    In addition to advanced engine technology, Chrysler has already
    introduced their new 8-speed automatic transmissions that will help to
    make the most of the power with aggressive gearing early on and very
    high gearing on the top end for improved MPGs.

    Diesel engines have long had a stigma in the United States for being
    grossly inefficient, noisy, bad smelling engines that are more trouble
    than they are worth, but for years, Volkswagen has offered a variety of
    passenger cars with efficient diesel engines.  Along with the VW brand
    expanding their diesel lineup in the US, BMW has joined their German
    counterparts with a clean running diesel of their own. And in a
    surprising announcement, General Motors has made it official that their
    Chevy Cruze will come with a diesel option for the US market.  This
    shows that automakers are seeing potential for diesel powered passenger
    cars in the US and if vehicles like the Chevy Cruze see some level of
    success – we can almost certainly expect to see more diesel options from
    the Chrysler Group.

    In addition to their popular Cummins Turbo Diesel that has become
    synonymous with the Ram heavy duty lineup, the Jeep brand has offered
    common rail diesels in a variety of models with regular rumors of a
    diesel Grand Cherokee in the near future.  Fiat has had great success
    with their vehicles in Europe so importing that highly efficient diesel
    tech to the Chrysler Group cars could help them reach their 54.5mpg
    ahead of schedule.

    So, what do you think? Should Chrysler invest more heavily in diesel or hybrid? Voice your opinion here!