DEER 2004 Coming
GM, Ford Sales Slipping

Chrysler Group Gas Hybrids by 2006?

Detroit Free Press. DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group may sell gasoline-electric cars and trucks to U.S. consumers as early as 2006, adding another fuel-efficient option to its main strategy of diesel-powered vehicles. studying whether to add gasoline-electric hybrid versions of some of its vehicles, according to Chrysler Group CEO Dieter Zetsche. He didn’t say which models. Chrysler already plans to sell 100 diesel-electric Dodge Ram pickup trucks to fleet customers later this year.

“We will be there in the hybrid market as well,” Zetsche said at a company event in Santa Barbara, Calif. “Obviously, not as one of the first, but we will be there.”

Internationally, DaimlerChrysler relies more on diesels to boost fuel economy, and is pushing hard for Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL), specifically biodiesel, as an important component of future clean-diesel efforts. The company began selling a diesel version of its Mercedes E320 in the US in April, and will sell a limited number of Jeep Liberty diesels beginning later this year.

That said, the company has been exploring hybrid drive concepts for some time. The diesel-electric hybrid pickup due out this fall (Dodge Ram HEV) is a civilian versions of a truck DaimlerChrysler developed with the US military. DaimlerChrysler has shown a variety of diesel-hybrid prototypes, including a Mercedes Grand Sport Tourer, a F500 Mercedes research car, a version of a Dodge Intrepid, and a Sprinter commercial van.

Here is Dr. Leopold Mikulic, Vice President, Powertrain Development, Mercedes Car Group, at a conference in Stuttgart in May 2004:

DaimlerChrysler is systematically working on hybrid drive concepts. DaimlerChrysler...makes out opportunities for hybrid drive under specific framework conditions, first and foremost motoring with a high stop-and-go proportion. These may also include legal framework conditions as in the USA and in Japan where such concepts are tax-privileged. Over and above this, however, DaimlerChrysler sees hybrid drive as a conceivable intermediate step on the way to the fuel cell car.

During the transitional period leading on to the alternative propulsion concepts of the 21st century, hybrid systems may well come into their own under specific conditions, preferably in Japan and the USA.

Not the most enthusiastic endorsement, but when the company realizes that the market is ready, it should be able to turn these years of research and development into a product fairly quickly (as evidenced by a 2006 target). It sounds like that realization is here. If the company could quickly deliver a strong gasoline-hybrid car for the US market, it could regain some of the share it has lost. The marketing message, needs to be pumped up.


Gordon Gilmour

Hi, In july 2006 I will be purchasing s new vehicle. I will be buying an alternate fuel car. Will Chrysler be manufacturing and Grand Caravans that have an alternate fuel option. Toyota has already informed me of a "Highlander Hybrid". However, I am a seasoned Chrysler buyer.

Sincerely, Gordon Gilmour


Well, depending upon where you live, there may already be an option. Dodge offers a flex-fuel version of the Grand Caravan—meaning it can use E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline blend) or conventional gasoline. To get the alt fuel benefit, though, you obiviously need to have E85 stations in your area. (You can look here.)

Chrysler has not explicitly announced—at least, not that I’ve seen—a hybrid version of the GC...but it would reasonable to assume they will, especially after Toyota’s hybrid Sienna hits. 2006 may be too early, though.

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