Fiat Chrysler Is Losing $14,000 on Each Electric Car Sale

May 23, 2014 11:59 AM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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Every time Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sells a 500e electric model, the company loses thousands of dollars, according to the company's chief executive.

"I hope you don't buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000," Sergio Marchionne said at a conference in Washington on Wednesday, as reported by Reuters. "I'm honest enough to tell you that."

The electric car built on the Fiat 500 platform starts at $32,650 before federal tax credits. Fiat has been losing on the model because buyers aren't willing to shell out enough money to cover production costs.

Marchionnne said Wednesday that he hopes to sell as few 500e models as possible. California-based Tesla Motors is the only automaker making a profit on electric cars, he told an audience at the Brookings Institution, as reported by Reuters.

"I will sell the (minimum) of what I need to sell and not one more," Marchionne said of the 500e.

Tesla is bringing in money because of the Model S sedan's higher price point, he said.

While states have been pushing for more mandates that curb emissions, Marchionnne doesn't believe the auto industry is prepared to make the full switch to electric cars.

"If we just build those vehicles, we'll be back asking ... in Washington for a second bailout because we'll be bankrupt," Marchionne said of electric cars, as quoted by Reuters.

Filing for bankruptcy in 2009, Chrysler received a federal bailout, and the American company was acquired by Italy's Fiat in a deal completed earlier this year.

The U.S. Department of Energy should outline target figures for greater fuel efficiency and less emissions, then allow carmakers to achieve those goals in their own fashion, Marchionne said.

California's zero-emission vehicle mandates and federal fuel efficiency requirements for 2025 urge more electric car production, but Marchionnne said Fiat Chrysler will only maintain its U.S. sales under those guidelines if hybrid vehicles make up 50 to 75 percent of models sold.

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