Chrysler Group in 5-year, $18.2M partnership with McMaster University to develop advanced electric and hybrid powertrains; funding from Canadian Government
Chrysler Group LLC has entered a 5-year, $18.2-million partnership with McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, with funding support from the Canadian government, to develop next-generation, energy-efficient, high-performance electrified powertrains and powertrain components. For McMaster, the project partnership is one of three new partnerships with Chrysler, the federal government and other auto industry leaders worth a combined $24 million.
Chrysler Group will invest $9.25 million in cash and in-kind contributions, with an additional $8.93 million coming from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the lead agency within Automotive Partnership Canada (APC), an initiative that supports industry research at Canadian universities and government laboratories.
A team of researchers led by Ali Emadi, Canada Excellence Research Chair for Hybrid Powertrain, will work with engineers from Chrysler Group’s Global Electrified Powertrain Group, McMaster faculty and dozens of undergraduate and graduate engineering students. Much of their work will be done at MARC, a $26-million facility where teams will be able to develop, design and test an electric or hybrid car.
20 engineers from Chrysler Group’s Global Electrified Powertrain Group and seven McMaster research engineers will team with 16 faculty members and 80 graduate and undergraduate engineering students. The partners will also use Chrysler Group laboratories and test vehicles.
To advance Chrysler Group’s electrification strategy, the partnership will develop multiple prototypes of critical components, platforms and tools that will strengthen the company’s future product lines. Six facets of vehicle electrification will be explored:
- Electrified powertrain architecture and optimization
- Power electronics
- Electric machines
- Motor control
- Energy management systems
- Embedded software
The project consists of three phases, each building on the achievements of the previous one. The final phase is scheduled to conclude in March of 2018.
Because low production volumes and the associated high component costs have limited market penetration of electrified vehicles, affordability will be a hallmark of the technology that emerges from the Chrysler-McMaster partnership. For example, the electric machine activity will target ways to reduce rare-earth mineral content in the magnets that enable electric motor function.
Component reliability, durability, weight, size and scalability will be primary considerations as commercial applications are expected to span a variety of powertrains and a range of vehicle segments. Energy storage solutions such as ultra-capacitors also will be a key focus.
In addition to the technological gains Chrysler Group will reap from the partnership, students will benefit from training in an area of growing importance to the auto industry.
Chrysler Group also will be on the lookout to bolster its engineering ranks by drawing from the pool of skilled McMaster graduates, Lee said.
Chrysler Canada employs more than 200 engineers at two assembly plants, a casting plant and the Chrysler Canada/University of Windsor Automotive Research and Development Centre in Windsor, ON.
Legislative pressure and socioeconomic forces are compelling the auto industry to deliver unparalleled technological advancement at an unprecedented rate. This project harnesses the kind of intellectual capital and collaboration required to respond to such challenges.—Bob Lee, Chrysler Group Vice President and Head of Engine, Powertrain and Electrified Propulsion Systems Engineering
The partnership builds on Chrysler Group’s current electrification endeavors, such as the 2013 launch of the Fiat 500e battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and the company’s research into vehicle-to-grid technology.
Chrysler Group’s ongoing cooperation with the US Department of Energy has produced test fleets that included the first factory-assembled vehicles with vehicle-to-grid capability and the first factory-assembled Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicles (APTZEVs) to pair plug-in hybrid technology with V-8 engines.
Second McMaster project: lightweighting. In the second project, totaling $3.8 million, researchers—led by mechanical engineering professor Sumanth Shankar—will work to leverage the weight-saving properties of aluminum and magnesium alloys for vehicle production, which hold great promise to replace steel in car parts.
Chrysler is one of four industrial partners making in-kind contributions totaling $1.4 million coupled with an additional $2 million investment from NSERC. The remaining funds will come from CANMET, an agency of Natural Resources Canada the works with the energy industry, academia and environmental stakeholders on clean energy research and advanced technology development.
Third McMaster project: social costs and benefits of electromobility. The third McMaster project is led by Pavlos Kanaroglou, a professor in the School of Geography & Earth Sciences. He and his team will consider the social costs and benefits of electric mobility in this country, enabling manufacturers to better design and market electric vehicles that respond to the needs and wants of Canadian consumers.
Valued at more than $2.4 million, with $1.8 million coming from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the project’s partners include Ford Motor Company of Canada, Burlington Hydro Inc., Electric Mobility Canada, the Canadian Automotive Association and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.