Chrysler Steps Up Powertrain Initiative

by : Mike Bartley

The beleaguered Chrysler Group is pushing its recovery plan which includes the development of fuel efficient engines which car buyers are looking for. The increasing price of gasoline and the call for use of alternative fuels led car manufacturers to develop fuel efficient engines and this is what the Chrysler Group is doing with its powertrain offensive.

Chrysler Group's Executive Vice President for Product Development, Frank Klegon, recently outlined the steps that the company will take to come up with fuel efficient Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles in the near future.

One of the initiatives that Klegon pointed out is the development of a mild-hybrid technology. A mild-hybrid vehicle is a vehicle with a hybrid powertrain but cannot run on pure battery power. The company will also expand its two-mode hybrid program. New six and eight-cylinder engines are also being developed by the company. Other initiatives that Klegon pointed out are dual clutch transmission technology, a common axle program, weight reduction, aerodynamic and drivetrain programs and the development of another BLUETEC diesel engine.

"Chrysler Group is focused directly on improving fuel efficiency across our vehicle lineup," says Klegon. "We have developed and are implementing a series of major initiatives - including a bigger push in hybrid and clean- diesel technology - to meet the needs of American consumers."

"Many of these fuel-efficiency initiatives will be incorporated simultaneously into a single vehicle family - our new V-6 with Multi- displacement System (MDS) mated to a dual-clutch transmission, for example - ultimately resulting in double-digit-percentage fuel-economy gains."

According to Chrysler, the two-mode hybrid system will be used on the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid and the Dodge Durango Hybrid which will be introduced in the market next year. According to Chrysler, the use of the two-mode hybrid technology will result in the reduction of fuel consumption by as much as 25 percent in combined city and highway driving. For city driving, the technology according to the car manufacturer will save consumers about 40 percent in fuel.

As for the new BLUETEC clean diesel engine, it will be used on the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The said clean diesel engine has been approved in all fifty states. The new engine is the second BLUETEC product which has received approval from fifty states. The first BLUETEC engine to be given that approval was the engine used in the 2007 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty.

Diesel is priced lower than gasoline which means that clean diesel engines have a clear advantage over gasoline engines. Even without the use of , diesel engines are known for producing more torques than gasoline engines. This fact will surely attract the attention of performance enthusiasts. Current Chrysler Group vehicles using diesel engines are the Dodge Sprinter, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Dodge Ram Heavy Duty.

The dual clutch transmission technology is a work in progress between Chrysler and German auto parts manufacturer Getrag. The said new transmission technology will be used by the Chrysler Group vehicles by the turn of the decade. According to initial testing, the transmission improves fuel efficiency by as much a six percent.

With these initiatives, the Chrysler Group can meet the demand in the auto market for fuel efficient vehicles. The company though would have to push these initiatives through until completion to ensure that the turnaround plan for the company becomes a success.