In what must be a first for the head of a multinational car manufacturer, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has requested that potential buyers of the Fiat 500e electric car look elsewhere.
> Speaking at a conference in Washington yesterday, Sergio Marchionne revealed that Fiat was making a huge loss on each of the electric vehicles sold, and he's fed up of losing money.
"I hope you don't buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000," the auto industry veteran said. "I'm honest enough to tell you that."
Despite US federal and state mandates requiring that carmakers build a quota of battery-electric vehicles alongside their conventional model ranges, Marchionne said he hoped to sell as few 500e models as possible.
Tesla Motors is currently the only electric vehicle company returning a profit on its vehicles, something that Marchionne credits to the car's premium positioning and higher asking price compared with his company's city-car based EV.
Currently only on sale in California, the 500e commands a $15,350 (£9,100) premium over the most basic petrol-powered version. Despite this, the high price isn't enough to cover Fiat's production costs.
"I will sell the (minimum) of what I need to sell and not one more," Marchionne continued, reported the Reuters news agency.
Marchionne, who is credited with turning around the Fiat company and bringing Chrysler back to profitability from its bankruptcy in 2009, issued a warning about electric cars:
"If we just build those vehicles, we'll be back asking... in Washington for a second bailout because we'll be bankrupt."
He was also critical of California's zero-emission mandates forcing carmakers to embrace battery electric motoring. He said he would prefer for the Department of Energy to simply set emissions targets and let car manufacturers meet them in their own way.
By 2025, Fiat expects hybrid vehicles (with both petrol and electric motors) to make up well over half of its total US sales volumes. Such expectations are not being levelled at pure-electric cars, because of consumers being put off by the lack of range they offer.