Chrysler is jumping back onto the hybrid bandwagon, entering in a research partnership in Canada that should result in vehicle electrification.
The cooperative agreement was announced today by Chrysler Group LLC, and it entails a 5-year, $18.2 million agreement with McMaster University in Ontario, with funding support from the Canadian government, to develop next-generation, energy-efficient, high-performance electrified powertrains and powertrain components.
The collaboration will see Chrysler Group invest $9.25 million in cash and in-kind contributions, with an additional $8.93 million coming from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the lead agency within Automotive Partnership Canada (APC), an initiative that supports industry research at Canadian universities and government laboratories.
Chrysler explained work will be centred at McMaster University, where 20 engineers from Chrysler Group’s Global Electrified Powertrain Group and seven McMaster research engineers will team with 16 faculty members and 80 graduate and undergraduate engineering students.
The partners will also use Chrysler Group laboratories and test vehicles.
“Legislative pressure and socioeconomic forces are compelling the auto industry to deliver unparalleled technological advancement at an unprecedented rate,” said Bob Lee, Chrysler Group Vice President and Head of Engine, Powertrain and Electrified Propulsion Systems Engineering. “This project harnesses the kind of intellectual capital and collaboration required to respond to such challenges. The result – superior technology developed from efficient new processes. Chrysler Group is grateful for the support of the Canadian government and McMaster University, a world-class institution with faculty to match.”
According to Chrysler, to advance the group’s electrification strategy, the partnership will develop multiple prototypes of critical components, platforms and tools that will strengthen the company’s future product lines.
Six facets of vehicle electrification will be explored:
- Electrified powertrain architecture and optimization
- Power electronics
- Electric machines
- Motor control
- Energy management systems
- Embedded software
Chrysler explained that because low production volumes and the associated high component costs have conspired to limit market penetration of electrified vehicles, affordability will be a hallmark of the technology that emerges from the Chrysler-McMaster partnership. For example, the electric machine activity will target ways to reduce rare-earth mineral content in the magnets that enable electric motor function.
Component reliability, durability, weight, size and scalability will be primary considerations, said Chrysler, as commercial applications are expected to span a variety of powertrains and a range of vehicle segments.
Energy storage solutions such as ultra-capacitors also will be a key focus.
Chrysler Group also said it will be on the lookout to bolster its engineering ranks by drawing from the pool of skilled McMaster graduates.
The project consists of three phases, each building on the achievements of the previous one. The final phase is scheduled to conclude in March of 2018.
Chrysler Group’s ongoing cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy has produced test fleets that included the first factory-assembled vehicles with vehicle-to-grid capability and the first factory-assembled Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicles (APTZEVs) to pair plug-in hybrid technology with V-8 engines, as exemplified in the hybrid SUV pictured. But Chysler has done and offered little since in terms of hybridization.