While announcing a vehicle electrification project, Chrysler announced today a partnership to study the use of lightweight alloys.

Chrysler Group LLC said it has signed on to a three-year, $3.9 million project supported by the Canadian government to explore ways to leverage the weight-saving properties of aluminum and magnesium alloys for vehicle production.

Chrysler Group is one of four industrial partners making in-kind contributions totaling $1.4 million. 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, will invest $2 million.

Chrysler explained the remaining funds will come from CANMET, an agency of Natural Resources Canada that works with the energy industry, academia and environmental stakeholders on clean energy research and advanced technology development.
“There is no silver bullet to improve vehicle fuel economy, so Chrysler Group is actively exploring every technology that shows promise,” said Tony Mancina, Head of Chrysler Group’s Automotive Research Development Centre. “Proliferating the use of strong, lightweight materials such as aluminum and magnesium is among the most promising avenues to reduce the energy demand on vehicle powertrains. Reductions in energy demand are key contributors to improved fuel economy.”

Work will be centered at McMaster University, whose researchers will co-ordinate activities with support from Ryerson University in Toronto and the University of Trento, in northwestern Italy.

Chrysler said the partnership also will benefit from access to Fiat Group’s Italy-based research and development arm, Centro Ricerche Fiat S.C.p.A.

The partnership is said to explore ways to improve the strength and corrosion resistance of aluminum and magnesium. Importantly, researchers will seek to align such improvements with existing casting methods, so the enhanced alloys can be integrated more readily with the vehicle production process, and with less added cost.

Chrysler Group currently uses both aluminum and magnesium in its vehicles; every Ram 1500 full-size pickup, the company’s top-selling vehicle, features an aluminum hood; while the SRT Viper supercar boasts a structural dashboard component that is the largest single piece of magnesium found in any production vehicle, anywhere in the world.