As it prepares to emerge from bankruptcy within the next few weeks as a new company run by Italian automaker Fiat, Chrysler has requested $224 million in loans from the Department of Energy to create electric and plug-in hybrid versions of some of its high-volume vehicles.
In three proposals, Chrysler outlined a planthat asks the DOE to match a $224-million investment Chrysler itself is making in electric versions of the Dodge Ram 1500 truck and the Chrysler Town & Country minivans. The combined $448 million would be used “to rapidly bring Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrid-electric Vehicles to market.”
$365 million of the funds would be used to create the Transportation Electrification Initiative. That program would produce 100 plug-in hybrid Dodge Ram trucks and 100 Chrysler Town & Country minivans to be tested by Chrysler customers and partners. An additional 165 Chrysler Town & Country cargo vans would be converted to electric vehicles through Chrysler’s ENVI program and delivered to U.S. Postal Service locations for daily mail service in four regions throughout the country.
The remaining $83 million would be used to build a new vehicle electrification and manufacturing center in Michigan by 2010. The facility would develop and test electric-drive manufacturing components, as well as assemble range-extended electric vehicles. Chrysler says the location would produce more than 20,000 units each year.
Seeing how the DOE can only give loans for “green” technology to entities deemed financially viable, we have only one question about the proposal: Does this mean Chrysler now views itself as financially viable?