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Chrysler Group Announces Broad Series of Fuel-Efficiency Initiatives; More Hybrids and New Engines

The Chrysler Group announced a broad set of new initiatives targeted specifically at improving the fuel efficiency of future Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles. Included in the announcement is the addition of a 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee BLUETEC Tier 2 Bin 5 compliant diesel.

Chrysler outlined a number of new technologies and possible applications that will begin entering the market in 2009. Among the initiatives are a commitment to developing mild-hybrid technology and expanding the company’s two-mode hybrid program; new six- and eight-cylinder gasoline engines, including the application of cylinder-deactivation in a V-6; dual-clutch transmission technology; a common axle program; and weight reduction, aerodynamic and drivetrain initiatives.

Additionally, the company announced it is exploring the development of a 4-cylinder diesel engine for the North American market, and the expansion of its 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine.

Chrysler Group is focused directly on improving fuel efficiency across our vehicle lineup. 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&mash;ultimately resulting in double-digit-percentage fuel-economy gains.

—Frank Klegon, Executive Vice President – Product Development,

The announced initiatives are:

  • Mild hybrids. Within the next few years, Chrysler will offer a mild-hybrid powertrain featuring start/stop, regenerative braking, and some traction assist in a Chrysler Group vehicle.

  • Two-mode hybrid. Chrysler Group announced today that its two-mode hybrid program will expand beyond the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid and Dodge Durango Hybrid, which debut next year. (Earlier post.)

  • 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee BLUETEC. The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee will join the 2007 Dodge Ram Heavy Duty as one of Chrysler Group’s first Tier 2 Bin 5 compliant diesel offerings.

  • Further application of the 3.0-liter V6 CRD diesel.

  • The possibility of a four-cylinder diesel for the North American market.

  • Phoenix V-6 with cylinder deactivation. Chrysler has recently broken ground on three new plants for the production of the next-generation of V-6 gasoline engine it calls the Phoenix family. The V-6 family will feature an aluminum die cast block, dual variable valve timing (VVT) and a two-stage oil pump, along with cylinder deactivation and other technologies. Chrysler expects to deliver across-the-board V-6 fuel efficiency improvement of six to eight percent in addition to new levels of V-6 power and performance.

  • Upgraded 5.7-liter HEMI V-8. For 2009, Chrysler Group will deliver a significantly upgraded version of its renowned 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, resulting in notable gains in fuel efficiency, refinement, power and torque.

  • New 4.7-liter Flex-Fuel V-8. The new 4.7-liter V-8 offers up to five percent better fuel economy than the previous 4.7-liter engine. At the same time, this E85 flex-fuel engine delivers increased performance and improved refinement. These improvements come from the 4.7-liter V-8’s two spark plugs per cylinder (the only Chrysler Group engine to do so, other than the 5.7-liter HEMI), increased compression ratio, improved cylinder-head port flow and new combustion system. In addition to improved fuel economy, the result is a 30-percent increase in horsepower and a 10-percent increase in torque (up to 75 additional horsepower and 35 more lb.-ft. of torque, depending on application) compared with the previous 4.7-liter V-8 engine.

  • Dual-clutch transmission technology. A new dual-clutch transmission developed in partnership with Getrag joins the Chrysler Group lineup in significant volumes in 2010 model-year vehicles. The new dual-clutch transmission is expected to deliver a fuel economy improvement of up to six percent, based on preliminary testing. The new transmission is equipped with two independent lay-shaft style gear sets with separate clutches, using manual transmission-based components. During shifts, the next gear is anticipated and pre-selected. Then one clutch is opened while the other is closed, allowing shifting without torque interruption. The result is quicker acceleration and refined shift quality.

  • Common axle program. New common axle technology will result in fuel-economy and axle-efficiency gains, while providing weight savings, cost reduction, increased refinement and less complexity. New advanced materials increase overall axle strength and reduce package size. Already featured in the Chrysler 300C SRT8, this axle will soon move to other Chrysler Group vehicles.

  • Aerodynamic, weight reduction and drivetrain improvements. A new set of initiatives are in place to improve fuel efficiency across its vehicle lineup by at least five percent. These initiatives include weight reduction, aerodynamic drag improvements, reduced rolling resistance and brake drag, optimized accessory loads, and minimized drivetrain losses.


Dave R

They still don't get it. While it is good they are working on improving fuel economy, nearly every single engine they are doing this on, they are also bumping up the power!

I would think that instead of bumping up the power, why not downsize the engine to match the existing engine's output and increase fuel economy even more?

Seeing these types of announcements and seeing the same manufacturers fighting so hard against raising CAFE limits blows my mind.


They REALLY need to focus on weight reduction at Chrysler.

I thought the 300C and Charger were attractive vehicles and then I saw the unladen weight (3800 to 4100lbs). How is it that these sedans are heavier than vans and trucks of 10 years ago? They weigh as much or more than AWD luxury vehicles. I can see that all cars are getting heavier (Accord & Camry now tip the scales around 3300lbs when they were 3000lbs 10 years ago) but 4000lbs is just rediculous...the 1960s/1970s Challenger weighed 4000lbs only when outfitted with the outrageous 8.0+ Liter engine.


This seems pretty ambitious considering their finances, etc. A lot of it looks like a 'kitchen sink' press release for the clueless.

i.e. 'we gonna do everything, and there ain't nothing we ain't gonna do, and it all gonna be right'

Desperate men do disparate deeds. They have to get better product to the dealers.

As others note, Chrysler vehicles are heavy. And even their newest stuff shows little concern about that. They don't go with strength - when the 300 was selling did they improve fit and finish and keep it hot?

Their one chance seems to be in diesel where no company has a lock.

Bet it all on diesels - cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, the works - and serial diesel hybrids and hope those take off. No way they are going to win with gasoline, mild hybrids, and what they have announced to date.


I'm guessing that engine downsizing may be prohibitively expensive due to agreements with their suppliers. They can't just up and say they don't want any more small block V8s, since the supplier is already tooled to produce them, so they have to figure out how to work with the contracts and make their current engine lineup more efficient.


I don't see anything in here that would indicate that they have the vision to survive. Pity.


Maybe that is why they are building new plants for the Phoenix V6 engines. I haven't seen any information on the displacement range, so the jury is still out on that.


If their hibrid's are anything like the Saturn Vue, you can forget it.


What does that mean, Shigley?


If your wondering why power? They want a v 6 as powerful as most v8s but much better milage. They want a mid distplacement v8 to take the place of the behemoth v8s.

Thats why.


Ages ago, when they had to borrow money from the federal government to stay afloat, it included strings that they had to produce some economical, higher mileage vehicles. They produced the k-cars, which weren't great, but were affordable, and it actually helped them recover. I guess now they think they need to make too much margin to cover healthcare costs, so they wouldn't want to go that route.


Agreed. Look at the new GM crossovers as an example. The 3.6 V6 with VVT and 6-speed auto powers those 5000lb vehicles just fine and with acceptable fuel economy. There is little need for a V8. For those that want more power, they may be able to pair the souped-up 3.6 with DI with the dual-mode hybrid transmission.


Plus, you can't push around 4000lb cars with 150hp and 200ft-lbs of torque.

To think, they were using Mitsubishi sourced 3.0L & 3.5L V-6 engines just 15 years ago and got by just fine with 141 to 175hp in 3000 to 3200lb vehicles.


k-cars weren't that great?

I loved the old 2.2L turbo in the Omni. Small car, tons of power (for its weight and the day and age)...okay, so there were some headgasket problems but just swap it out with a metal gasket from the get go and you are golden!


No program for Plug-in's. No program for EV's. No program for the future electification of transportation. They will surely be left in the dust.

Good luck surviving Chrysler!!!



No program for Plug-in's. No program for EV's. No program for the future electification of transportation. They will surely be left in the dust.

Good luck surviving Chrysler!!!



No program for Plug-in's. No program for EV's. No program for the future electification of transportation. They will surely be left in the dust.

Good luck surviving Chrysler!!!



No program for Plug-in's. No program for EV's. No program for the future electification of transportation. They will surely be left in the dust.

Good luck surviving Chrysler!!!



"Plus, you can't push around 4000lb cars with 150hp and 200ft-lbs of torque."

The Ford S-Max with the base gas engine has a curb weight of 3,900 lbs with 143hp and 140lb/ft torque still does 0-62 in 10 seconds. The diesel is 200 lbs heavier but offers 250 lb/ft and achieves 30% better fuel economy.


While nothing on the list from Chyrsler is revolutionary, they are at least steps in the right direction. Hopefully things will move faster once the new company is completely shot of the lousy Mercedes management. Cerberus may break it into bits in the end, but at least for now having non-auto-industry people calling the shots potentially allows for new thinking at Chrysler.

Besides, consumers are really to blame here. If Chrysler is selling heavy cars powered by monster V8s that's because people have been buying them. With ridiculously low gas prices there was (and to a lesser extent still is) no short-term penalty for doing so.


It means Chrysler will more than likely throw together a hybrid like GM did with the Vue, just to say they have a hybrid. The Vue gets what, 32/27 MPG? I did better than that with my 1991 V6 Buick LaSabre. Buzz words like "Mild Hybrid, Two-Mode hybrid, new technology and possible appliations" makes me wonder. I wish Chrysler the best, but everyone I know who ownes on has had nothing but problems.


I don't even like the term "mild hybrid". They've got to spend the money to develop and install the system, so why do it half ass? Let's see some innovation and and some leadership and some better ideas. And something that I can plug into a wall. A good hybrid system can help them move that weight if they really feel it's necessary to keep it. Hp is nice, but how much of that could be tuned into better fuel economy at the same amount of power?

Stan Peterson

The Phoenix V6 engine family will replace the need for most V-8s in cars. With all aluminum, VVT, DI and MDS ans possibly camless operation, it is as good as any V6 on the planet, and will be used by Mercedes as well. The dual mode hybrid, shared with GM will be much more efficient than the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive of the Prius. That is nothing to sneeze at.

Offering T2B5 diesels across the board, from small I4 to mid size V6s, and using Cummins for the big trucks is sound too. The small V8 has been a fine start, but was unfinished. Now it is or will be. With all aluminum, OHCs, VVT and now they are talking of MDS as well. The only thing missing there is DI. The World engine I4 just introduced last year is competitive with all other fours in the world.

It would appear that all their engines will be capable of running an Atkinson cycle with little change.

This is a program to have State of the Art power trains throughout their product line.

As for the mild hybrid announcement, I recall all the cooiing and billing here when the exalted foreign BMW announced its intentions for that too. Now a domestic manufacturer does it, and again there is derision. I will welcome providing mild hybrid features if they adopt them across all models as standard equipment. Doing so builds manufacturing volumes for HEV and PHEV drive train subsystems like electric HVAC electric power brakes and electric assisted steering. Every step helps in the Electrification of Ground Transport.

The only thing unannounced is PHEVs. I would want to save that as a big announcement of its own.

I suspect that Chrysler will make a splash with a HEV and then PHEV minivan. I suspect that will be the debut of the front drive dual mode hybrid drive train.

The one thing encouraging is that the new owners did not choose to pinch pennies by killing capital investment for engines, transmissions, drive trains and axles. That was a fear when Daimler sold them.


You bring up some interesting points, Stan, but is it hype or fact? Case in point. If "double-digit" improved fuel economy means 10%, then the Dodge Durango, which gets around 14/19 mpg average, would be an additional 1.4/1.9 mpg. My son owns a 2006 model that averaged 16 mpg on a recent trip. So even a 30% improvement in mpg would not be that impressive and, I doubt that Chrysler could do better than 30%.
In any event, I applaud Chrysler's direction, but implementing all, or even half of what they propose by 2009? Tick-tock.


"It means Chrysler will more than likely throw together a hybrid like GM did with the Vue, just to say they have a hybrid."

Shigley, let us be fair here. As it relates to automobiles, the definition of "hybrid" is up for debate. Yes, there have been many derivations. Parallel versus series. Full versus mild. 2-mode. However, just as you cannot offer just one type of vehicle or even a single engine in most cases, why must there be a one-size-fits-all hybrid setup?

GM's hybrid has merit. It's relative simplicity and lower cost (as compared to a a full hybrid) allows it to be used in almost any application with little modification. One could easily see this almost becoming standard in the not so distant future.

I understand you don't feel like it merits the use of the word hyrid, but why not? Does it not facilitate ICE start/stop? Does it not provide a degree of assisted electrical propulsion? Does it not recapture energy during braking? Does it not improve fuel economy by at least 15%? What should you call it?

Additionally, as the federal tax credits for hybrids are based on the percentage of improvement over the non-hybrid version, it's not like the subsidy is disproportionate.

I fail to understand how improving real world fuel economy by 15% is any any way a bad thing for the public. There is nary a bad word regarding news of direct injection or variable valve lift implementations, even though their respective fuel efficiency increases range from around 3% to 8%.


I'm with Angelo. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

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