Can Ford beat the Chevy Volt two years later with a cheaper PHEV?

Will the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt and Ford Fiesta really compete with each other? Maybe not the two cars, but the underlying vehicle architectures will compete, and Greentech Media talked to Ford's chief engineer for global hybrid core engineering, Sherif Marakby, who said that his company's later, cheaper, smaller strategy will beat the competition. Ford will use the global C-segment platform (which includes the Fiesta) for its PHEV, and GM has spoken many times about using the Volt's Voltec powertrain in a variety of vehicles (see: Converj). Once the opening round goes to GM in November 2010, then things start to get a bit more interesting.

Marakby said that Ford's 2012 introduction date for its first plug-in hybrid and parallel hybrid architecture (the Volt is a series hybrid) will allow the Blue Oval's cars to be cheaper. For one thing, the batteries can be smaller. Plus, Ford isn't targeting the same 40 miles of electric range that the Volt has (maybe 20 or 30 miles?). By going the parallel hybrid route, Ford also expects to save money by use components from conventional hybrids.

Chrysler to bring electric Fiat 500, hatchback concept to Detroit

Just because Chrysler won't be holding a press conference at next month's Detroit Auto Show doesn't mean that America's third-largest automaker is coming to the party empty-handed. Far from it, in fact, assuming there's truth to the rumors that the Pentastar will be showing off both an electric version of the soon-to-be-US-bound Fiat 500 along with a Chrysler-ized version of the Lancia Delta hatchback.

While the Chrysler-branded concept is said to be nothing more than a standard-fare Delta emblazoned with Chrysler's trademark chrome fascia, the electric Fiat 500 is a bit more interesting. We've heard that the automaker's erstwhile ENVI group was disbanded and assimilated into the rest of the company's product development workforce, so we're curious to see the integration of a battery-powered drivetrain into the little urban runabout. Will it be a fully-functional vehicle or just a mock-up of what could potentially be possible?

Not surprisingly, we'll also be treated to the rest of the Fiat 500 lineup, including the 500C Cabriolet (no word on bikini-clad models) and the sporty 500 Abarth. Finally, tucked into a corner of the Chrysler booth in Detroit will also reportedly be such premium Italian machinery as the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Maserati GranCabrio. Hey... if you've got it, why not flaunt it, right?