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Chrysler to introduce PHEV models in 2016 and 2017 to meet ZEV requirements; new FCA gasoline engine family coming in 2015

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) Chrysler Brand will launch two plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) over the next several years, said Al Gardner, President and CEO of the Chrysler Brand, during the FCA Investor Day presentations at Auburn Hills, Mi.

One will be a PHEV version of the new Chrysler Town & Country minivan to be introduced in 2016; the second will be a PHEV version of a new full-size crossover vehicle to be introduced in 2017. Neither is the result of immediate wide-spread customer demand, noted Bob Lee, VP and Head of Engine, Powertrain and Electrified Propulsion Systems Engineering for Chrysler Group LLC, later in the day:

Electrification has been over-blown by the media. With the exception of a relatively small group of early adopters, the market continues to be primarily driven by regulatory requirements. FCA will launch a PHEV minivan in 2016 to comply with ZEV requirements. Several mild hybrid applications will come to market shortly thereafter.

—Bob Lee

Overall, the Chrysler brand is targeting a significant expansion in its segment coverage over the next five years, with the addition of a C-segment 100 Sedan in 2016, and new full- and mid-size crossover vehicles coming in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Management of the brand intends for that expansion in coverage to support an aggressive sales target of 800,000 units in 2018, up from 350,000 units in 2013.

Tim Kuniskis’ (President and CEO Dodge Brand) Investor Day presentation emphasized brand attitude and the performance orientation of the brand. “We think the car has been commoditized and that America’s drivers have been abandoned. We think the blame for America’s ambivalence toward cars goes to import brands.”

Dodge, for its part, is taking a more performance-oriented approach to the market, and is ending production of the Avenger sedan this year (that segment will be covered by the Chrysler 200) as well as the Grand Caravan minivan in 2016.

FCA powertrain directions.  The dominant driver for powertrain technology change over the next 5+ years is CO2, said Bob Lee. This is driven by regulation and increasingly by customer preference.

For MY 2012 in the US, FCA was compliant with fuel economy requirements, but had negative credit generation due to model mix. In other words, the company purchased credits to be compliant, and will continue to do so when appropriate to provide time to understand and decision the complex business cases associated with new technologies, Lee said.

FCA’s twin drivers are regulatory compliance and developing and producing increasingly more fuel-efficient vehicles which customers want to buy, he said. To develop its coming powertrain technologies, FCA is simulating combinations of powertrain and VDE technologies to identify the best “Bang-for-the-Buck” which satisfies the “Synthesis of requirements”. (VDE = f(Aerodynamic drag, Tire drag, Weight))

Bang-for-the-buck technology assessments. FCA’s assessment is that diesel provides about the same Bang-for-the-Buck as CNG and hybrid technology when assessed on a fuel consumption rather than CO2 basis. Click to enlarge.

FCA consolidated its transmission lineup, moving from 4, 5, and 6 speeds to 8 and 9 speeds to gain efficiency, performance, and refinement. The Pentastar V-6 engine family replaced seven V-6 Engines (four families) and provided significant CO2 reduction with improvements in performance and refinement.

FCA is working on consolidating and improving its large and specialty engines lineup. There will be a common engine package for full-size truck, large SUV and large sedan/coupes, and the technologies and benefits will be more substantial than cylinder deactivation was in 2003, Lee said.

FCA also plans to consolidate its small gasoline engine lineup with a new family to be launched in 2015.

FCA and the industry in general have made great strides in improving the efficiency of the internal combustion engine. Much more progress will come as gasoline and diesel engine technologies converge. FCA will start the global roll out of a new small gasoline engine family in 2015 which incorporates these new and emerging technologies.

—Bob Lee

The new family will be available in many power levels but will share cylinder geometry and combustion system architecture for maximum efficiency. The new gasoline engine family will incorporate numerous technologies, including:

  • Integrated water/air charge cooler
  • MultiAir valvetrain
  • Direct fuel injection
  • Aluminum block
  • Lightweight crankshaft offset from cylinder bores
  • Variable displacement oil pump
  • Belt start generator and stop/start system
  • Low-friction silent chain
  • Twin-scroll turbocharger
  • Integrated exhaust manifold
  • Close-coupled catalyst
  • Cooled EGR
  • Variable flow water pump and electric auxiliary water pump
  • Low-friction roller bearing balance shaft
  • Low-friction roller bearing camshaft
Technologies for the new engine family. Click to enlarge.

Despite the strong regulatory push by CARB’s ZEV mandate, Lee noted, fuel cells still are not commercially viable for mainstream automobiles. The technology is too expensive and the infrastructure to create and distribute hydrogen with a net CO2 footprint reduction is not in place.

FCA is looking at electrification products to meet different requirements. Battery electric vehicles, for example the Fiat 500e, are targeted to meet ZEV requirements. FCA sees a potential market opportunity in certain areas for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles; those will be initially met by the new Chrysler products, for example. Mild hybrid technology has the potential for broad market penetration, and FCA envisions products in that area in CY 2016 and following.

Fca electric
FCA electrification strategy. Click to enlarge.


Lee noted, fuel cells still are not commercially viable for mainstream automobiles. The technology is too expensive and the infrastructure to create and distribute hydrogen with a net CO2 footprint reduction is not in place.

Bears repeating.


' Using nanotechnology (science at very small scales), researchers have created a nanoframe catalyst that uses roughly 85 percent less platinum and has more than 30 times the catalytic activity, making it cheaper and more efficient than conventional catalysts.'

Also bears repeating.
Its an add evaluation which has infinite credulity for infinite cost reductions and energy density increases in batteries but dismisses all advances in fuel cells.

Actually the rate of progress in fuel cells has been far faster than in batteries in recent years.


It is thoroughly refreshing to hear a senior engineering manager speak the truth to the enviro-crackpots inhabiting CARB.

Just because they have a ridiculous idea and a hair across their asses, there is no reason to waste billions of dollars following the CARB FCEV mandates until they are viable both technically and economically.

The issued regulations with a preposterous implementation schedule policy contributed to the bankruptcy of the domestic makers. In the end when they could not be met, CARB had to adjust their schedules to the more realistic schedules drawn up by the federal EPA, surely no toady of the auto industry.

They spent billions on CARBite electrification before its time and when it was clear that batteries were two generations too soon, and Pb-acid was not practical for powering EVs.

That money would have been better spent on better auto designs, and higher quality. But those funds were diverted to mollifying CARBite wishes, which in the end couldn't be met anyway.

It is pretty clear that the senior CARB staff have little or no technical credentials to buttress their fat headed wishes.

I look forward to the automobile companies calling their bluff, and declaring that they won't waste money meeting their fatheaded wishes.

Besides their simply is no reason to have a second would-be EPA trying to regulate the auto emissions. One such bureaucracy is more than enough.

Jason Burr

Electrification has been over-blown by the media. With the exception of a relatively small group of early adopters, the market continues to be primarily driven by regulatory requirements. FCA will launch a PHEV minivan in 2016 to comply with ZEV requirements. Several mild hybrid applications will come to market shortly thereafter.

—Bob Lee

Seams FCA still believes neither is viable as a profitable product to the general public.


They may keep believing that while Tesla becomes the biggest auto manufacturer in the USA.


Chrysler 200

THAT seems like the car you want to make a PHEV to compete with Camry and Fusion.


As much as FCA's position may sound like the very Utterances of the Dark One, you just can't refute this key point:

"With the exception of a relatively small group of early adopters, the market continues to be primarily driven by regulatory requirements." That is absolutely a fact. California exerts an extraordinary leverage on the aspirations of global auto manufacturers; the other 11 or so signatory states combines add to it somewhat. As a result of these pressures, a large number of electrified vehicle models have hit the market to sell in piddling quantities to keep the CA market available to the respective manufacturers. FCA is out of tricks to get credits --- for awhile they could apply NEV credits and a number of studies and experiments. Finally they had to knuckle under to CARB.

The bad old USA is still the largest consumer of BEVs and other plug-ins because of the combination of our large market, a huge variety of incentives and a very friendly ATVM grant and loan program, the second half of which is about to be unleashed. How many articles have appeared in the GCC service addressing studies to figure out how much more needs to be offered to consumers to get them to go electric? The ICCT press release appears two titles below this one. The page is never without at least one link to another "how do we get people to plug in?" tome.

People in our happy little EV cult (and I'm one, so calm down) love to point to Norway. Please. They forgive the normal purchase tax IN TOTAL (well over 50%), eliminate all tolls and parking fees (which are exorbitant) and give a power discount. Yes, people buy a lot of wildly incentivized EVs in a small country with enormous wealth. Not a useful sample case. There is no auto market of significant size that has shown a meaningful uptake of EVs, even those in which liquid HC fuels are expensive and the general population is regarded as quite "green".

In fact, it astounds me how few people in the EV press echo chamber do not own/lease EVs. I am continuously amazed and amused by the pedantic lectures from wise proponents of the EV about savings, comfort, and general Moral Goodness. Yet so many acolytes are "saving up for a Model S" or "almost got a Volt but found that it DIRECTLY DRIVES THE WHEELS FROM THE ICE during certain modes" or "need to get my PV first", or blah blah blah. The point is that MOST people in this debating club are not EV drivers (and don't even play one on TV).

As much as I love my Leaf and my bike and will probably really love my conversion, I know I am an oddball. I'm (a) primarily a nerd, but also (b) pushed toward the technology owing to professional interests, and (c) lucky to have a personal mobility need that's very amenable to current EV technology. People who have ridden in or driven my car are just awed by it, but can't imagine living with the limitations. Show them the Tesla driven by a local business owner and they just drool... until they hear the price.

It IS a limited market, it IS driven by regulatory requirement, and most drivers ARE very special exceptions to even a broad range of consumer profiles. This is going to be a very long road, and market penetration for cleaner, less wasteful technologies will be quite incremental.


I'd say that's good news, Herman.  People drool at the Tesla until they hear the price... and the $40,000 price point for the Model X ought to put paid to that.

Nick Lyons

@E-P: I think you mean Model E. And $40K is still too expensive for most people--think $25K.

Roger Pham

The new Tesla Model E is intended with a sticker price of $35,000. However, even a $40,000-BEV is competitive in overall cost in comparison to a $20,000 ICEV at 160,000-mile point which is considered to be the life expectancy for ICEV. An ICEV at 25 mpg will consume 6400 gallons of fuel at 160,000 miles. At $3.5/gal, will cost $22,400 in fuel expense alone! Electricity cost at 3.5mi/kWh will consume 160,000/3.5 = 45,700kWh. At $0.12/kWh, the electricity cost will be $5,485. The difference in fuel costs between an ICEV and BEV will be 22,400 - 5,485 = ~17,000 USD.

Factoring in oil change, maintenance and repair cost for the engine and transmission and brakes that the BEV has none, will cost at least $3,000 to $6,000, and add that to the $17,000 advantage of the BEV will show that a $40,000-BEV will cost less to own, fuel, and operate than a comparable $20,000-ICEV at 160,000 miles. Now, if the BEV costs $35k and the ICEV costs $25k, then the BEV owner will have over $10k cost advantage over the ICEV owner.

However, more importantly, Tesla is a high-end luxury brand. So $40,000 Tesla is comparable to a $40,000 Lexus, Cadillac, Infiniti, Accura, BMW, etc and NOT to a $25,000 regular ICEV. So, a new Tesla Model E owner will be able to laugh all the way to the bank with OVER $20,000 in overall cost savings at 160,000-mi point.

At that level of cost advantage of a BEV to an ICEV, no one would mind to wait an hour or so for recharging on occasional out-of-town trips at SuperCharger stations within the drive path of the vehicle. Rare trips to remote areas not served by SuperCharger stations can be made by renting an ICEV. Households with a BEV will very likely have at least an ICEV that can be used for out-of-town trips to avoid the cost of car rental!


Ah, you appear to be correct.  I must have read a source that confused them and didn't go back to the horse's mouth (admittedly, search engines seldom return the authoritative source anywhere near where they should be).



Everything you've said is the (unfortunate) quiet truth that no one ever talks about, especially the politicos and talking heads in the media.

Speaking from experience.... I've got a C-note saying that you are an auto engineer somewhere in SE Michigan... most likely calibration engineer at one point in the past 20 yrs....

Kudos for being one of the very, very few people I have ever seen posting online with regards to autos/regulation that has any idea about what they are talking about.



What conversion do you speak of? If it is a car conversion, do you have a website?


The Model X is the AWD SUV, which will probably try to sell closer to $100,000. I don't know if that is a good product plan, but some people are wealthy enough for an SUV/EV.


Who dares wins (one of my favorite mottos):

It is a conversion of a 1964 Corvair Monza using a Curtis motor/controller and TBD battery. Right now I'm puzzling out the motor/transaxle adaptation. This conversion has been done before but not with Curtis machines that I can find.

No pics yet as there is little progress.



You are a little optimistic as regards Tesla maintenance costs. They are fast heavy cars and thus go through expensive ($1000+) tyres quickly.

Modern IC cars don't require much transmission or engine work. That's why there are no more local transmission shops. Most of the service money is in brakes and suspension, which heavy electric cars require. I know you think there's no wear on brakes, but most brake jobs outside of California/Arizona are due to corrosion (seized calipers).

I think that maintenance costs will be a wash. You may skip a timing belt replacement at 100,000 miles, but you will be going through expensive tyres very quickly. One extra set of tyres costs more than a timing belt.

Roger Pham

Thanks for the info, Bernard. Tire wear on the Tesla is up to the driver how he/she wants to enjoy the car. Good point about the brakes' corrosion. That's why the brakes in the Prius are made of aluminum for the most part.


I really liked the Bob Lee presentation. My previous comments reflect that.

But overlooked completely was Mr. Lees comments about the evolving merger of Spark Ignited and Compresiion Ignited ICEs, along with his commentary on the new FCA small ICEs.

Diesels are crude in their combustion and produce voluminous particle emissions. As we move ever closer to desireable truly clean ICEs, matching the emissions of BEVs, it will be necessary for them to get much more refined and start adopting technologies from the Spark Ignition world. Our Air is now clean, without it, but cleaner is better, as it implies greater efficiency.

A typical "lightweight Diesel" weighs around 500-600 pounds while larger ones in small trucks like the Cummins in RAM pickups, can routinely weigh more than half a ton. The only reason they are so heavy is that CI engines can't control knock and must be crudely 'beefier' to survive.

If Mr. Lee is hinting that, what VW has dubed "DiesOtto" operation, is really drawing closer, I look forward to such engines weighing slightly more than ICE gas engines at 150-360 pounds taking almost a quarter ton or more out of a vehicles weight while obtaining the fuel economy of a diesel, augmented even more by the weight reduction. I know GM had streetable test models of HCCI engines several years ago, that the press were invited to drive.

Likely this is the avenue to reach the no-longer-necessary extreme fuel economy targets, while still producing mass market viable priced vehicles.

Today America consumes no more oil than it did in 1985 when the population was one third the size. With this technology we can approach 1940s levels of fuel consumption. Oil is not running out, and the supposed danger of CAGW was massively overblown.

We have no real Energy problems; it will not be solved with half-baked ideas for renewables. Clean and in-exhaustible Energy in unlimited quantities, is in the offing before the first third of this Century is reached.

There are multiple avenues to achieve this, but ultimately I think controlled 2HE3-based Fusion generators will answer the need by mid-century. We will have commercial DT fusion in less than 20 years. But if not, quite as soon as I think, Fission could safely serve for the interim. I have worked in this field and am convinced the time is about to arrive.

PS: I am an Engineer, but have never worked in automotive industries directly. I do observe the scene though, and can detect political BS, and like Engineer-Poet, see the false concern for watermelon green, pseudo-Science distorting all the worlds technical investment.


D, thanks for an honest and interesting perspective. You do realize that at GCC you are in the belly of the beast with some of your positions...

I have personally not read about DiesOtto since the F700. It appears from your views I should have kept up.

One question for you: what is your view on electrification (such as microhybrid) to eliminate/minimize idle and to recuperate braking losses?


I think that Dr. Frank Davis at UC Davis was/is a genius and only recently recognized. He is worth more than a million blowhards like Al Gore or Ed Markey or the heads of UCS or WWF.

PHEV technology provides an answer to a question no longer is needing to be asked. That is: 'How could you maintain our civilizations Transportation network if Petroleum actually ran out?' Of course it isn't, and likely never will.

Dr. Davis showed that a fleet of Volts could be supplied with all the liquid fuel needed by simply making it from food in no larger quantities than we presently divert to that end, even if it is a government subsidized boondoggle of enormous proportions, supported by legalized thievery and extortion of funds from the taxpaying citizenry.

All forms of PHEVs are appealing to me, because they could be more efficient than our still crude ground conveyances. But the technology is still premature, redundant, and enforced by mandate before its proper time.

So I welcome all advances and improvements in efficiency from all manor of hybrids from micro through strong. Electrification has its place and may provide much of our transport hub eventually, but never all of it.

Portable liquid fuels provide compact energy in quantity and will be needed in mobile Tranportation for a very long time.


Dr. Andy Frank was turning Taurus into hybrids in the 80s. He is now with a company in Palo Alto, I wish him all the best. He has made a great contribution.

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