Italian minister criticizes Fiat for not investing in EVs

Italy claims that Fiat has lost "a great opportunity".

Corrado Clini, Italy's minister of the environment, has publicly called out Fiat for failing to invest in electric vehicles and hybrids. The criticism comes at a time when Italy is paralyzed by truck drivers who are on strike to protest the ever-increasing price of gas.

According to Italy's Quattroruote, Clini said that Fiat's actions have caused the country's automotive industry to lose "a great opportunity" and will force it to become an importer of technology in the future as EVs and hybrids become more and more widespread.

To prove his point, Clini singled out the hybrid version of the Fiat Multipla that was developed jointly by Fiat and components builder Magneti-Marelli. It was powered by a 1.6 four-cylinder engine and a 30 kilowatt electric motor that allowed the Multipla to travel in full-electric mode for up to fifty miles at a speed of about fifty miles per hour. In hybrid mode, the Multipla was capable of almost a hundred miles per hour.

Fiat unveiled the Multipla Hybrid at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show. Being a fairly advanced piece of machinery that took a tremendous amount of time and money to develop, it looked like it had a brilliant future ahead of it. However, only ten cars were built and given to the city of Naples, Italy, before the plug was pulled.

Clini claims that if Fiat had continued to develop the car, it would be a market leader today in vehicles powered by alternative energies. Instead, it is being left behind while most of its European competitors have a hybrid and/or an EV in their lineup.

At the same press conference, Clini announced that the Italian government is going to offer a 5,000â,¬ ($6,400) bonus towards the purchase of an electric car. The incentive is an attempt to significantly increase the number of EVs on Italian roads by 2020.