Chrysler's innovations: built for the future driver

Chrysler's innovations: built for the future driver image

Text: / Photos: | posted July 22, 2005 00:00

Most car companies often present new technologies for its end users, but rarely do these companies take time out to explain these innovations. At the Chrysler Group, executives and engineers make sure that all its automotive technologies are highlighted and designed to meet and exceed practical customer needs today and into the future. "At a time when the domestic auto industry has struggled in the face of fierce global competition, we've been building momentum. We're most proud of the fact that our recent improvements in sales, market share and profits have been driven by innovative new products." said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chrysler Group chief executive officer and president.

Advanced internal combustion engine technology

For starters, the 5.7-liter Hemi (so-called for the hemispherical design of the 5.7-liter engine's combustion chambers) V-8 engine is perhaps the best balance between fuel consumption and engine performance from an eight-cylinder powerplant. Widely recognized for its exhilarating performance, the Hemi was also the first volume introduction of fuel-saving cylinder deactivation technology in North America. The Chrysler Group's Multi-Displacement System (MDS) seamlessly alternates between smooth, high-fuel-economy four-cylinder mode when less power is needed, and V-8 mode when the driver demands more power. The switch from eight to four cylinders occurs in 40 milliseconds, faster than the blink of an eye, and can provide up to a 20 percent improvement in fuel economy.

But diesel technology was not to be left out; the Chrysler Group managed to harness the potential of diesel power by introducing the first diesel-powered, mid-sized sport-utility vehicle in the United States, the Jeep Liberty CRD. Diesel is a key technology available today that can dramatically reduce petroleum use as diesels are 30 percent more fuel-efficient than gasoline engines and emit 20 percent less carbon dioxide. The Chrysler Group is taking the environmental and energy security benefits further by encouraging the use of renewable biodiesel fuel. Biodiesel is produced in the US and reduces emissions of particulate matter, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. Every Jeep Liberty CRD is fueled with B5 (diesel fuel blended with five percent biodiesel) before it leaves the factory. Chrysler Group is working with industry, government and standards organizations to improve quality standards for B20 so it can be recommended for use in diesel products. By the end of May, the Chrysler Group had produced 6,000 Jeep Liberty CRD vehicles for the U.S. market. Dealers have only a 23-day supply of this model, which is far better than the industry average.

Fuel cell and hybrid electric powertrains

With the rapid rise of petroleum products, Chrysler is determined to break new ground in the search of alternative ways for underhood performance. As part of DaimlerChrysler's global fuel cell effort, the Chrysler Group engineers work with US-based organizations such as the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, BP and UPS (United Parcel Service) to speed up the development of fuel cells and the hydrogen infrastructure. For example, UPS uses DaimlerChrysler fuel cell vehicles in daily business operations, allowing engineers to collect data of a fuel cell vehicle operating under the demanding duty cycle of a Michigan delivery route during year-round Midwestern climate conditions. This practical experience is just one example of how partnerships help improve vehicles while promoting customer and infrastructure familiarity. In total, DaimlerChrysler has over 100 fuel cell vehicles in operation around the world, the largest fleet of fuel cell vehicles from any automaker.

Hybrid electric vehicle development is also accelerating at DaimlerChrysler through a new joint-development program with General Motors. The companies aim to set a new standard for hybrid vehicle performance and efficiency. The two-mode hybrid system not only utilizes electric motors for propulsion at low speeds, but has a second mode of operation that provides maximum efficiency at higher speeds. The result is a significant fuel economy improvement, up to 25 percent. Chrysler Group will introduce a SUV using the new two-mode hybrid system in 2008.

Active safety through wireless technology

DaimlerChrysler is the first automaker to publicly test wireless communications technology that may help drivers avoid collisions and heavy traffic conditions. A Dodge Durango and Mercedes E500 have been outfitted with Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC). DSRC is a variant of the WiFi standard and allows vehicles to communicate with each other and the transportation infrastructure. Chrysler Group is beginning to test this technology in California, Michigan and Florida. Through vehicle-to-vehicle communications, numerous safety applications could be enabled, including forward collision warnings, merging or lane change warnings, intersection collision avoidance and emergency vehicle notification.