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April 15, 2011 Chrysler's new powertrains to focus on fuel efficiency with Fiat technology | | The Detroit News

Chrysler’s new powertrains to focus on fuel efficiency with Fiat technology

Fiat technology plays significant role in powertrain upgrades


Chrysler Group LLC is bolstering its lineup of fuel-efficient powertrains, thanks to initiatives under Fiat SpA management.

Many of the advances involve Fiat technology; the Italian automaker is known as a small-car and small-engine specialist.

Paolo Ferrero, the former Fiat executive who now heads Chrysler powertrain, said work is under way on a variety of propulsion systems, ranging from improved gasoline engines to diesels, hybrids and electric vehicles.

And new transmissions will further improve fuel efficiency, he said Thursday after a presentation at the 2011 Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress.

Chrysler's new Pentastar V-6 is proliferating across the lineup and is being considered for the Ram 1500 pickup as well, Ferrero said. That would allow the Ram to compete more directly with the new Ford F-150. The Ram currently has only a V-8.

The Auburn Hills automaker also is improving its four-cylinder engines with Fiat's MultiAir technology, which improves combustion. The engine in the Fiat 500 has MultiAir, and it will be expanded to more engines in Chrysler vehicles. Turbocharging also is expected in the future.

And soon, every Chrysler vehicle will have at least a six-speed automatic transmission; many will have eight- or nine-speed gearboxes.

"Chrysler has to have as many standout attributes as they can given that their historic profile has been more downmarket," said analyst Joe Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting Inc. in Short Hills, N.J.

A nine-speed transmission in a minivan "will generate good buzz for them," Phillippi said.

And Chrysler is preparing to introduce Fiat's dry dual clutch on the Chrysler 200, which will improve fuel economy as well.

Ferrero said the technology is ready to launch on a second new vehicle, which he would not disclose. The new Dodge compact car, which replaces the Caliber next year, is a candidate.

Chrysler also is expected to show a hybrid version of the Chrysler 300 next year, and a version of the Fiat 500 will be the first electric vehicle.

At SAE earlier this week, Bob Lee, Chrysler vice president of engine and electrified propulsion systems, confirmed that work continues on natural-gas vehicles, with plans to start selling them in 2017.

Fiat has had success with natural gas vehicles in Europe, and CEO Sergio Marchionne is pushing for the infrastructure to expand their use in North America.

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It would be nice if one of these multi speed transmissions could be retrofitted to our rides! Odometer just went over 900 miles - 15 mpg in town and a steady 21 mpg @ 74 mph from the Fort to Indy and back! I expect the numbers to improve some as it loosens up! I'm happy. :cool:
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