When we say that the lack of awareness is surprisingly still the biggest problem for electric vehicle adoption, this is a good example.
Chrysler says that they don’t want to call their Pacifica Hybrid a ‘plug-in’ electric van because they think it has a bad connotation in most of the country.
After several delays, Chrysler confirmed in April that they finally started delivering the van to customers. Though a recall followed and quickly slowed down the rollout.
Despite that, the vehicle has been well-received as the first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) minivan. Its plug-in hybrid drivetrain delivers 30 miles of all-electric range on a 16 kWh battery pack and with 84 MPGe, it’s the only game in town in term of high-efficiency minivan.
But the automaker wants to downplay the electric plug-in part.
Bloomberg talked to Tim Kuniskis, head of Fiat Chrysler’s passenger-car brands in the U.S, who said that the company thinks the reference to “plug-in” scares people outside of California, which is why it will be the only state where the vehicle will be referred to as a plug-in.
“The omission is a deliberate one by the automaker’s marketing team because so many Americans still associate the word “plug-in” with risk of running out of battery.”
Chrysler prefers to dumb it down for the public instead of educating it on the benefits of having at least some all-electric range for their daily commute. Anyway, it’s not even an all-electric vehicle, the gas engine kicks in after the electric range is depleted.
It’s not exactly surprising since Chrysler has been one of the most hesitant major automakers when it comes to electric vehicles. Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat/Chrysler, has been clear about only developing electric vehicles for incentives, claiming that he doesn’t understand how anyone can make money selling electric cars other than to comply with government mandates. He went as far as publicly asking customers not to buy FCA’s electric vehicles.
Kuniskis said that he expects it will take another 5 years for the rest of the US to catch up to California when it comes to the perception of plug-in hybrids.
What do you think? Are they underestimating the intelligence of the market or is it a smart move? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.