fiatchryslerSome commenters suggested my earlier post, “Chrysler to electrify entire product line,” should have been filed under “humor.” How was the company going to survive the current collapse of the auto industry, let alone find the money to invest in green cars?

But now the NYT reports:

The Italian automaker Fiat agreed on Tuesday to take a 35 percent stake in the struggling American auto company Chrysler, which was forced last month to seek a federal bailout amid fears it might not survive.

And, as the article notes, this creates a real eco-opportunity for Chrysler:

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The agreement will allow Chrysler to use Fiat’s technology and vehicle platforms to build more fuel-efficient, small and midsize cars at its factories and sell them in North America. Fiat will give Chrysler access to distribution networks in other parts of the world, particularly Europe. The companies said they expected “substantial cost savings opportunities” but did not specify an amount …

“The agreement will offer both companies opportunities to gain access to most relevant automotive markets,” Mr. Marchionne [Fiat CEO] said, “with innovative and environmentally friendly product offering, a field in which Fiat is a recognized world leader while benefiting from additional cost synergies.”

… “This transaction will enable Chrysler to offer a broader competitive line-up of vehicles for our dealers and customers that meet emissions and fuel efficiency standards, while adhering to conditions of the government loan,” Chrysler’s chairman, Robert L. Nardelli, said in the statement.

As for Chrysler’s plan to go electric, I was not the only one suckered inspired by them. Consider L. A. Times car columnist Dan Neil, who wrote in mid-January, “The company has a long history of pulling itself out of deep trouble. This time, it’s counting on electric cars to save it”:

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The public will get a good look at Chrysler’s electric-car plans today when it reveals two new “production-intent” vehicles at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show: a plug-in hybrid version of the Jeep Patriot compact utility, and a pure electric vehicle, called the Circuit, based on the British sports car Lotus Europa.

These join three ENVI prototypes unveiled last year: a plug-in hybrid Chrysler minivan and Jeep Wrangler, and another electrified Lotus, similar to the Tesla Roadster. Chrysler has committed to bringing at least one advanced electric vehicle to the market next year.

“These are not concept vehicles,” says Quigley. “We can’t afford that anymore. These are intended for production.”

Take your best shots, ye of little faith!

This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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