It wasn’t long ago that two of the largest auto conglomerates in the world – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Groupe PSA – combined to form Stellantis. Five months later and they’ve announced a major step in the direction of the world of the EV. From the upcoming vehicles, to how their batteries are going to be developed, sourced and recycled and on to their charging infrastructure plans, Stellantis EV Day was chock full of info, most pertinent of which was the 30 billion Euros they’ve earmarked over the next five years for this low-emission vehicle (LEV) commitment; they’re targeting that 70 per cent of all European sales be LEVs by 2030, and that 40 per cent of all U.S. sales be LEVs within that same timeframe.
“The purpose of today’s session is to demonstrate to you that Stellantis is now in full execution
mode at full speed on its electrification journey,” said Carlos Tavares, Stellantis CEO. “Five months after its birth, powered by our diversity of people and brands, Stellantis accelerates to lead the way the world moves.”
The big news has to do with their new full battery-electric vehicle (BEV) platform. Actually, there are four platforms labelled STLA Small, STLA Medium, STLA Large and STLA Frame. Each version has a different EV range, starting at 500 km for the Small version at one end of the spectrum, and 800 km for the Large and Frame versions at the other. The first three versions are pretty obvious; Small is for city runabout hatches and crossovers, Medium for compact EVs, Large for AWD performance vehicles – more on these in a minute – and frame will be a body-on-frame platform for pickups and other commercial vehicles.
The main factor contributing to the modularity of these platforms is the how the motor, inverter and gearbox are all combined and can be configured for AWD, RWD or FWD.
While not too much light was shone on what the first vehicles to use these platforms will be, Dodge did tease an upcoming all-EV muscle car, complete with the tagline “Dodge will not sell electric cars. Dodge will sell American eMuscle.”
Ram also got in on the festivities with an announcement of an all-EV version of the 1500 pickup, which, considering the times we’re in, should come as no surprise to anyone. Perhaps more surprising is that while the F-150 Lightning, Cybertruck and Rivian are right around the corner, RAM is pegging 2024 for the 1500 EV. It seems a merger in the time of COVID has its…complications.
When it comes to EVs, however, it’s often about much more than the vehicles themselves. These are highly-technological enterprises that manage to at the same time be relatively high-maintenance when it comes to their lifeblood – electricity, and how to get it. It’s not enough to just develop EVs – you have to be able to sustain them, and to that end, Stellantis has already partnered with Electrify America in charger development and have a number of toes dipped in a number of waters regarding other charging networks. They’re investing in a big charger rollout first in Europe, then in South America and on to North America after that.
With Stellantis, it seems vertical integration is the key. In addition to working the charging network, developing the platform(s) and establishing a battery life cycle that has an EV’s battery going from the car, to a storage solution and on to a charging platform Stellantis is also working on developing five Tesla-esque gigafactories for battery production. There’s also a newly developed in-house software division that specializes in streamlining the development process and establishing a rhythm of over-the-air updates that will run into the millions across the company’s 14 brands. They’re also developing partnerships with both LG and Samsung for battery development, as they say they’re going to need 20 times more gigahertz of battery capacity by 2030.
4xe marches on
While the Wrangler 4xe is the first vehicle to use Jeep’s plug-in hybrid “4xe” tech in the North American market, the smaller Compass and Renegade crossovers have been using the platform in Europe – where it sells rather well – for quite some time.
In that light, today Jeep revealed the first images of the 2022 Grand Cherokee 4xe. Precious few details have been released, but if the Grand Cherokee’s powertrain’s figures match those of the Wrangler, expect 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of combines torque, and an all-EV range of around 40 km.
The Grand Cherokee 4xe may not make use of any of the new STLA platforms, but it does represent a significant step towards Jeep’s electrification in North America.