Automotive > Powertrain, Body, Chassis & Safety Blog

Chrysler Plans Mass Import of Fiat Powertrain Technology

by Ian Riches | Nov 06, 2009

Chrysler has given extensive insight into its future plans in a series of presentations that were released recently.  Its future roadmap shows the introduction of Chrysler Group-branded Fiat-based models from 2012, with a C-segment compact sedan to be built by Chrysler for both the Dodge and Chrysler brands leading the way.  This will be joined by a couple of Fiat-based commercial vehicles the same year.  2013 will see more new products, including:

  • A Fiat-built B-segment small car for Chrysler and Dodge
  • A Fiat-based B-segment small SUV for Jeep
  • A Fiat-based Patriot/Compass replacement for Jeep
  • A Fiat-based D-segment sedan for Chrysler and Dodge
  • A Fiat-based Liberty replacement for Jeep
  • A Fiat-based mid-sized crossover for Chrysler

These new models, along with the launch of the Fiat-branded 500 from 2011, are hoped to help revive Chrysler’s US market share from a low point of under 9% in 2009 to approaching 14% by 2014. This will not be easy, with competitors such as a resurgent Ford, chastened Toyota and ambitious Hyundai-Kia keen to fight hard for market share as well. One key part of Chrysler’s plan is the rapid adoption of many of Fiat’s powertrain technologies.  Strategy Analytics believes that Chrysler has fallen somewhat behind the curve in the US, with engine line-ups such as Ford’s EcoBoost having no current Chrysler-derived competition. In its powertrain strategy document, Chrysler states that is wishes to implement a “Rapid introduction of all Fiat Group technologies: downsize/turbo, MultiAir, start/stop, Gas Direct Injection”.  By 2014, Chrysler envisages offering a wide range of downsized units, including a 400+ hp 3.0-liter 6-cylinder direction-injection turbocharged unit based upon Fiat MultiAir technology. The result is that by 2014, Chrysler Group predicts that 38% of its products to be fitted by a 4-cylinder gasoline engine, up from an expected 19% in 2010.  Diesel demand will also expand, up from 9% to 14%.  The 6- and 8-cylinder gasoline units will see sharp declines, down from 54% to 38% and 18% to 10% respectively.  By 2014, only 12% of powertrains are expected to be Chrysler legacy designs. Chrysler is less forthcoming when it comes to hybrid and electric vehicle technology.  Although its short-medium term strategy includes “Electrification/hybrids to complement advances in conventional technologies”, this would appear to be limited in ambition with a longer-term strategy stated as “Electrification/hybrids will expand once they become a cost effective proposition to final customer”. Firm commitments to the electrification roadmap are few and far between, and include a stop-start Jeep Wrangler diesel for late 2010.  The Chrysler Group electrification plan slide contains little of substance, other than asserting that “Chrysler Group is lead engineering center for hybrid /electrification for Chrysler & Fiat Group”, as shown below. Chrysler Electrification Plan Strategy Analytics is not surprised by this approach.  It is highly pragmatic, and concentrates the engineering resource on what needs to be done: getting a highly-competitive range of conventional powertrains on the road soon.  However, there is a danger.  GM has generated huge numbers of column inches with the Volt, and Ford now has its electric Focus on the Jay Leno Show.  Chrysler is getting done what needs to be done, but risks losing out on what needs to be seen to be done.

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