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Chrysler Group files S-1 for IPO; snapshot of R&D priorities; exploring a light-duty hydraulic hybrid

Chrysler Group LLC has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relating to a proposed initial public offering of common shares. Details of the offering—i.e., number of shares and price range—are yet to be determined.

However, the document not only provides a detailed look at the finances of the company, it also provides a quick recap of recent technology developments and some insight into the company’s immediate research priorities. Chrysler writes that its has “made the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles a priority to meet retail consumer preferences, comply with future regulations and as part of our commitment to sustainability.

“We are focused on delivering improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions through smaller and optimized engines. Our engine mix is intentionally moving toward smaller, 4-cylinder engines.”
—Chrysler S-1

It is focusing its efforts on five areas aimed at reducing fuel consumption and emissions: vehicle energy use (weight, aerodynamics, and rolling resistance); engines; transmissions; axles and drivelines; and hybrid propulsion and alternative fuel technologies.

Vehicle energy use. Chrysler is exploring ways to optimize vehicle weight, aerodynamic drag, tire performance, braking drag and driveline losses. As one example cited, the company has increased its use of high-strength steel and other lightweight materials to reduce vehicle weight, and thus improve fuel economy, while still meeting standards for vehicle safety.

Approximately 70% of the body structure in the Compact US Wide (CUSW) platform co-developed with Fiat, and introduced with the Dodge Dart, is of high-strength composition. (Earlier post.)

High-pressure, lightweight aluminum casting technology—including the front and rear suspension cross-members in the Dodge Dart—further reduce weight. Chrysler is also seeking to reduce electrical loads through application of higher efficiency fans and fuel pumps.

“While we believe that our current product plan will meet the applicable federal and California GHG/fuel economy standards established through model year 2016, based on projected sales volumes and fleet mix, compliance with the standards as proposed for the 2017 through 2025 model years will require us to take further additional costly actions or to limit the sale of certain of our vehicles in certain states.”
—Chrysler S-1

In addition, Chrysler continues to look into vehicle applications for thermal management. Thermal management technologies not only help reduce fuel consumption, but are an important factor in extending battery range for hybrid electric and all-electric vehicle models.

CHrysler’s current research efforts include various strategies to warm engines and transmissions faster; to have the vehicles run at an ideal set point; and to recapture waste heat.

The company anticipates that some of its vehicles will begin to incorporate a low-tension belt for the front-end accessory drive, which will further drive fuel savings. Chrysler said it will deploy electric power steering across the entire lineup in future years.

To further reduce fuel consumption, Chrysler incorporated stop/start technology into the new Ram 1500 as well as the diesel version of the Jeep Wrangler that Fiat is selling on our behalf in Europe. Chrysler plans to initiate fleet-wide integration of this fuel-saving start/stop technology on a global basis, including certain models in North America.

Engines. Chrysler is already relying heavily on its award-winning Pentastar V-6 gasoline engine, which features a light-weight aluminum block with variable valve timing that improves fuel efficiency over its pre-2010 predecessor engines.

“Our engine mix is intentionally moving toward smaller, 4-cylinder engines. In 2012, 26 percent of our vehicles incorporated a 4-cylinder engine, as compared to 24 percent in 2011 and 19 percent in 2010. We expect this trend of increasing use of smaller engines to continue.”
—Chrysler S-1

Chrysler also manufactures the FIRE engine for the Fiat 500, which incorporates Fiat’s MultiAir technology. MultiAir technology involves proprietary hardware, combustion strategies and controls that provide cycle-by-cycle control of engine intake valve lift and timing. This technology delivers up to a 7.5% improvement in fuel efficiency while enhancing performance.

The newer MultiAir II maximizes the combustion efficiency by simultaneously managing the intake valves, throttle position and spark timing. Chrysler believes these enhancements will improve torque and fuel economy beyond that of the original MultiAir technology, and plans to apply this new technology to the new 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder Tigershark engine available in the 2013 Dodge Dart GT.

This engine provides better fuel economy and refinement than our current World Gas Engine. By 2015, Chrysler expects that the Tigershark family will replace the World Gas Engine.

Transmissions. Chrysler Group has two commercial agreements with ZF Friedrichshafen AG for the design, engineering and manufacture of new automatic transmissions that deliver reduced fuel consumption combined with improved driving performance. The first agreement covers a rear-wheel drive 8-speed transmission for light and medium-duty applications originally introduced in 2011 in the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.

This transmission is now in the new Ram 1500, the Jeep Grand Cherokee (including in the diesel version), and the Dodge Durango. This transmission reduces fuel consumption by up to 12% over most of the current 5-speed and 6-speed transmissions in the Group lineup. Chrysler said that ultimately plans to use this transmission in all rear-wheel drive vehicles except the heavy-duty versions of the Ram truck and the all-new SRT Viper.

The second agreement with ZF covers the development and manufacture of an new 9-speed front-wheel drive transmission for medium-duty applications, with an expected 7% reduction in fuel consumption over the current 6-speed transmissions.

This transmission is being used first in 2013 for the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, and in other future vehicles. The Group manufactures the majority of its volume requirements for both the 8- and 9-speed ZF transmissions at its own facilities in Kokomo, Indiana under licenses from ZF, and purchases the remainder of our volume requirements from ZF.

In 2012, we introduced Fiat’s dual dry clutch transmission (DDCT), in select versions of the Dodge Dart. The DDCT combines the basic mechanical system of a conventional manual transmission assembly with an electronically controlled shifting system that the driver operates like an automatic transmission.

Axles and Drivelines. Chrysler Group has a commercial agreement with an affiliate of ZF through which they produce lightweight axles. This relationship affords the company access to advanced axle technologies we could not develop on our own without investing significant time and capital, Chrysler said. The proprietary ZF axles weigh up to 34% less than, and improve fuel efficiency by 2% relative to, comparable axles.

Expanding the application of the axle disconnect concept in front-wheel drive based all-wheel drive vehicle platforms (as in the all-wheel drive versions of the Dodge Charger and the Chrysler 300) Chrysler developed the first rear axle disconnect technology to improve fuel economy, along with retaining the vehicle capability. This advanced driveline solution is being introduced in 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

Hybrid propulsion and alternative fuel vehicles. CHrysler says it is developing technologies that can be used in a wide range of electrified vehicles, including conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids, range-extended electric vehicles and full-function electric vehicles.

With respect to these advanced technologies, we are creating cost reduction strategies such as modular systems and components that can be utilized across various types of vehicles to ensure affordability in the future. Additionally, significant effort is focused on optimizing internal combustion engine technologies that are synergistic with hybrid research and development.

—Chrysler S-1

Chrysler started manufacturing its first production EV in late 2012, the FIAT 500e, with limited sales to US consumers. After two years of testing, the US DOE demonstration projects for Ram Truck and Chrysler Minivan PHEVs are undergoing upgrades to leverage advancements in lithium-ion battery technology. Chrysler says it is also exploring the development of other hybrid technologies, such as hydraulic power coupled with a gasoline engine for light-duty applications.

In late 2013, Chrysler will introduce a Jeep Grand Cherokee powered by a diesel engine in North America; the company expects this version will provide significantly improved fuel economy. In the first quarter of 2014, it also plans to introduce a diesel version of the Ram 1500.

Chrysler is producing vehicles that utilize compressed natural gas, and said it is exploring use of other alternative fuel sources.



The 101+ problems (and possible solutions) with existing ICEVs are more or less well known.

The transition to lighter more efficient electrified vehicles has barely started but is strongly opposed by the oil, gas, ethanol, corn and many ICEVs associated industries.

Unfortunately, too many still do not see the need for the change to more environmentally friendly vehicles.

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