Sergio Marchionne, CEO of the Chrysler Group (and Fiat), may have announced that the Chrysler 300 would get an available hybrid powertrain recently, but he didn’t exactly seem happy about it. The money quote from his interview about the situation in Automotive News was succinct, and perhaps a bit peevish: "I have no other way of getting to 2025 [CAFE] numbers than by going to hybrids.”
And he’s no doubt right, as Chrysler is mired in last place for fleet fuel efficiency among the mainstream automakers, according to Edmunds’ number for the 2010 model year. The company’s 19.2 mpg in terms of “adjusted composite values” trailed the next worst mark, that of Ford(!), by 1.3 mpg and was 6.7 mpg behind the pace of the leader here, Hyundai. That’s just what happens when you sell a lot of big trucks, a point reinforced by the fact that GM was right there with Ford, with the General putting up a mark of 20.8 mpg. Further, at the risk of mixing apples and oranges, I’ll mention that the Detroit 3 have by far the biggest percentage of non-cars in their sales mix among the mainstreamers, and their places on the Edmunds fuel-efficiency list follow the exact reverse order as their MotorIntelligence.com rankings for the YTD percentage of non-cars in their sales mix.
That is, through September, 59.8 percent of the General’s deliveries were non-cars; 64.4 percent of Ford’s sales were from those vehicles; and Chrysler’s surging sales are being driven by it relying on “trucks” for 74.4 percent of its sales so far this year. At the same time, as mentioned above, Chrysler had the worst fleet fuel efficiency, followed by Ford and then GM.
Frankly, I’m not sure how much a hybrid 300 will be able to move ye olde needle in terms of Chrysler fuel efficiency unless the company changes its sales mix, but then again, it may not have to do as much work as Sergio thought.