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Upgrade to Mercedes automatic coming?

February 5th, 2010
With engineers working on substantial revisions to every Chrysler vehicle as well as replacements for the mid-sized and compact cars, engineering and testing time is tight at the CTC. For that reason, it was only a little surprising to hear that Chrysler is working on upgrades to the Mercedes W5A580 automatic transmission used since the Chrysler 300C made its debut.

Rumors have flown around that an eight-speed automatic, most likely a joint venture design with ZF (which is probably a ZF with Chrysler controls and mechanical interfaces), was being considered, but that it did not provide the performance/efficiency boost needed to merit the extra cost. Recently, we were informed that Chrysler appears to be working on a six or seven speed version of the Mercedes automatic. Mercedes itself moved to transmissions with more than five gears some time ago, but kept to its policy of allowing Chrysler access only to its older technologies.

While many at Chrysler appear to be unhappy with the Mercedes automatics, for a variety of reasons, a new version might cost less than the eight-speed ZF, especially given that it would likely allow the company to use a modified version of its current electronic controls, transmission case, and such, and not require nearly as much engineering work to fit into current vehicles and assembly systems. It would also mean far less retraining for the thousands of mechanics who work at Chrysler dealerships around the world.

The six or seven speed automatic could be a stopgap to fill in for the next few years, during which Chrysler could work its magic to develop a completely new automatic, or work with ZF on tailoring something for its needs, or combine the Chrysler and Fiat dual clutch
automatics to replace hydraulic power transfer units entirely. It might even be a similar Mercedes design, adapted as the W5A580 was, just with more gears, obtained using the threat of ZF as an incentive for Mercedes to cooperate.

The 2011 Chrysler 300C and 2011 Dodge Charger, due at the end of this year or very early in 2011, are still expected to have five-speed automatics at launch, behind both the Hemi and the Pentastar V6.

LINK:2011 Chrysler 300C
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