Powertrain chief Mircea Gradu leaves Chrysler, replaced by Robert (Bob) E. Lee

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 17, 2014

Mircea Gradu has left Chrysler Group to pursue other interests. Gradu was the main man for Chrysler’s transmission, powertrain and driveline engineering, and was in charge of ensuring that the 2014 Jeep Cherokee's innovative drive system was working properly. Assuming Gradu’s role on an interim basis is Bob Lee, who is Chrysler's head of engine, powertrain and electrified propulsion systems engineering.

He is also a member of Chrysler's Group Executive Council. Gradu joined Chrysler from the Timken Co. in 2007 and since then had held increasing responsibilities at the US carmaker. Chrysler delayed the launch of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee by nearly two months until late October to properly calibrate the software governing its nine-speed automatic gearbox and its disconnecting rear driveshaft and differential.

Chrysler had to initially test every Cherokee that rolled off the production line to ensure that its drivetrain was operating as intended.

Gradu's teams were responsible for the way the innovative drive system worked. Chrysler is planning to employ an all-wheel-drive system similar to Cherokee’s in other future vehicles, like versions of the 2015 Chrysler 200.

According to Fiat-Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne during a third-quarter conference call, the delay proved costly for the US carmaker.

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