Chrysler to update Powertrains: The Missing Link?

Since the mid 2000s, Chrysler has gotten a lot of complaints about its exterior and interior designs, and for good reason.  Lately, vehicles like the Dodge Nitro have shown that Chrysler is changing their image, and it’s all for the better.  Fit and finish on both the inside and outside has improved, but refinement in the engine and transmission, the two biggest components of a vehicle’s powertrain, is still lacking, as is fuel mileage.  Chrysler recently announced a new powertrain strategy, and while not surprising, it’s still good to hear.

The expected items include incorporating Fiat’s engine and transmission technologies into existing Chrysler vehicles, which will result in more fuel efficiency as well as refinement, the two things I mentioned above.  Things like turbocharging and direct injection, which have been used for quite some time but are now making their way into high-volume vehicles, will do a lot towards bringing Chrysler into the 21st century.  Both technologies work to increase the efficiency of an engine, the former by reusing exhaust gasses and the latter by making the burning of fuel more optimal.

In addition to Fiat’s 4-cylinder engine designs, Chrysler will be paring down it’s current offerings of 6 V6 engines into 1 V6, named the Pentastar engine.  The new engine will make use of the aforementioned technologies, and its first application will be the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, where it gives owners a bonus of 33% more power over the currently-used V6.  It will also make appearances in other Chrysler vehicles, some with turbocharging, and some without.

On the transmission front, Chrysler will be using Fiat’s 6-speed automatic transmission, adapting it for use in its own vehicles.  The new transmission is said to be increase fuel efficiency by 10%, which seems like a lot to me, but combined with the new engines, just may work.  The new transmission combines the best mechanical parts of automatic and manual transmissions, which is how it allows the vehicle to burn less gasoline.

Chrysler says that by 2014, over 80% of its engines will receive a makeover, which is good, considering the CAFE fuel efficiency requirements which are scheduled to take effect in 2012.  We’ll see how this works out for them, but spending some money now to upgrade engines and transmissions will go a long way towards Chrysler gaining market share, which it desperately needs in order to stay solvent.

by John Suit

Source: Chrysler

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