Chrysler increasing fuel economy of its models with new 8-, 9-speed transmissions

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 30, 2012

Chrysler Group LLC has developed transmissions with more gears to boost performance and fuel economy that it plans to use in more of its models. This is Chrysler’s largest investment in the U.S. after it emerged from bankruptcy in June 2009. Mircea Gradu, vice president of transmission powertrain and driveline engineering, said that eight-speed transmissions, which have been seen more frequently in luxury vehicles built by BMW AG and Audi, will be used throughout Chrysler's lineup starting late this year.

By the first half of 2013, Chrysler will present the first nine-speed transmissions in the industry. Gradu said that sooner or later, others will get similar solutions. He said that he hopes it will be a long time before the others catch up with the technology.

CEO Sergio Marchionne said that while competitors flaunt hybrid cars, plug-in hybrids and pure electrics, he believes that Chrysler could meet regulatory requirements mainly by using better transmissions to enhance its traditional gasoline engines. This strategy doesn’t require as much investment as when developing a hybrid. It has already aided in increasing sales of cars like the Chrysler 300.

Chrysler will be able to comply with stricter standards with the eight- and nine-speed transmissions, which could lessen emissions and increase efficiency. President Barack Obama has made a proposal that by 2025, there will be U.S. rules that force automakers to double their corporate average fuel economy, dubbed as CAFE, to 54.5 miles per gallon.

Alan Baum, the principal of auto-industry forecaster Baum & Associates in West Bloomfield, Mich., said that most automakers intend to meet these targets by using some gasoline-electric hybrids, a modest number of electric vehicles and a significant amount of upgrades in the conventional internal- combustion engines.

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