Green Update: Chrysler and Nissan Commit to Impossible Green Goals

A hybrid for this car?

The tougher U.S. fuel economy (CAFE) standards have forced some radical rethinking by two of the world’s largest auto companies.

They really have no other choice, as long as the government commits to the flawed idea of CAFE, with all its loopholes, contradictions and costs of enforcement.

The 54.5-mpg requirement for passenger cars by 2025 (really around 40 mpg per EPA window sticker) has forced Chrysler to start making and selling hybrids and diesels. In 2013, the Chrysler 300 (above) will have a hybrid version, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee will offer diesel. The Fiat 500 EV will be coming next year.

Last year, Chrysler trailed all 14 major carmakers with a 19.2-mpg average. Regarding CAFE, CEO Sergio Marchionne has said, “I have no other way of getting to 2025 numbers than by going to hybrids.” He is also hopeful that CNG infrastructure will take hold.

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Mostly Gloom from Industry Big Shots

Carlos Ghosn

As the world economy sags (or sinks, some would say), the car czars are finally taking note. Pent-up demand has kept the big guys afloat, and so has China. But the European crisis and the endemic sickness of the U.S. economy are hard to ignore.

Looking at next year, Carlos Ghosn (above) forecasts “very great uncertainty for the time being.” The CEO of Renault and Nissan says customers are presently skeptical but not yet “defensive.”

Both his companies are currently doing well, but who would not be uneasy, given the signals from around the world, including slowing demand for cars in China?

Dan Akerson, the GM CEO, looks for flat U.S. sales in 2012. Like others, he “sees the EU crisis as the biggest threat to auto sales and to the global economy.” Akerson predicts 2012 light-vehicle sales will be similar in numbers (12.7 million) to this year’s.

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