The Chrysler ME Four Twelve
0-100 in 6.2 seconds, 0-60 in 2.9, Quarter mile of 10.6 @ 136 mph... and all put together in record time
The ME 4-12 is not a concept car, but a prototype of a car that was never made. Around 300 Chrysler ME 4-12 cars were to be built each year, using carbon fiber and light-weight metals such as aluminum. Road testing was scheduled for late January 2004, with production to start within two years. The concept cars / prototypes were built in the United States by Metalcrafters; the lead engineer was from Chrysler and the lead suppliers were North American. Most off the shelf parts appear to be from Chrysler, aside from the engine. Daimler, we are told, wanted to use European suppliers and engineers instead.
In 2004, prototypes were being tested; top speed appeared to be 240 mph with quarter mile times of 10.6 seconds at 136 mph. It used the double-clutch automatically-controlled manual transmission designed and patented by Chrysler, with manual overrides via steering wheel paddles. When AutoWeek test drove it in August 2004, they found numerous changes from the prototype.
The majoro shortcoming of the ME-412 was that it easily beat the expensive Mercedes SLR, which was years in the making, and far more expensive for Mercedes to develop; Dieter reportedly was screamed at for this, and it may even have been one of the reasons why Wolfgang Bernhard was "de-selected" from the Mercedes-head job. The ME-412 was, not surprisingly, cancelled.
ME-412 team effectiveness (by Bob Sheaves)
There were a grand total of 11 people working on the ME from Chrysler (out of about 10,000 at CTC, FREC, and JTE), according to press preleases. There were a handful of suppliers; let's just say under ten that have admitted in the public forums (at least in the trade magazines and press).
With regard to the transmission research and development, in my opinion the most important piece of R&D, Ricardo is handling the "bodies" (meaning the people or "warm bodies") doing the work, under Chrysler direction and supervision. Approximately 30 people (2 from DCX, maybe) would be involved with this work, including design, engineering, manufacturing feasibility, testing, and process.
For this team to even make one driveable vehicle (or several, as the article states the car is under development - which, by inference, means there is at least one and probably 5 transmission assemblies - at least one for manufacturing development, at least one in a mule car, and least one in the show car, and at least two in dyno testing) in under 18 months (this time point has not been reached yet) is nothing short of phenomenal - especially given the money spent so far, which is about average for a show car by GM, let alone a functioning vehicle.
The general populace of Chrysler Engineering is not "out where the buses don't run" working on this kind of stuff - but rather, dealing with the day to day work of the C and D segment cars, current model production, model changes, etc.
A great automotive genius once said:
Merely "contending with" what the competition is doing, without reinforcing your own unique strengths, is suicide in this business. [The] Competitive Vehicle Group at CTC is charged with such analysis and projection - let them do their job without "outside" interference.
In simpler terms, the return on investment of this kind of research (such as the ME-412) is far more important that most realize!
More Chrysler ME-412 details and photos
The ME stands for "mid-engined." The quad-turbo, V-12 powered Chrysler ME Four Twelve supercar may not only establish real-world performance records but may also set a record for lightning-quick vehicle development. It took less than one year to complete from start to finish (though we don't know what they started with).
The engine is from AMG, with 850 bhp @ 5750 rpm, with 850 lb-ft. (1150 N-m) of torque between 2500 and 4500 rpm on premium unleaded fuel. It was reportedly designed for Chrysler, but will probably be used by Mercedes in other applications (we'd expect it to appear in the Vision and perhaps the McLaren SLR). Use of the AMG engine was dictated largely by the need for high power with light weight (around 500 lb) and at reasonable development cost.
With a curb weight of just 2880 lbs. (1310 kg), the ME Four-Twelve has the weight-to-power ratio of 3.4 lbs/bhp — a new performance record. In actual Chrysler speed runs, the ME Four-Twelve goes from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 6.2 seconds, and it will blister through the quarter mile in 10.6 seconds at 135 mph. The estimated top speed of the ME Four-Twelve is 248 mph (400 km/h). The vehicle is designed and packaged to achieve outstanding thermal performance under extreme operating conditions. Its large capacity, high-efficiency engine-cooling system allows this engine to retain optimum thermal performance — a key advantage in the super car arena.
The 7-speed Ricardo Double Clutch Transmission was developed specifically for this vehicle and features the latest double wet-clutch technology and electronic control strategy. The exclusive transmission delivers uninterrupted torque to the rear wheels with 200 millisecond shift times. The double wet-clutch technology appears to come from Chrysler. (An anonymous Chrysler employee wrote, "I cannot believe that Chrysler didn't get the credit for this transaxle!!! To be fair, it fits with its replacement by the junk MB controls and system.")
The ME Four-Twelve's carbon fiber bodywork was designed to mate to a carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb monocoque tub. Aluminum crush structures and chrome-moly sub-frames complete the ME Four-Twelve's rigid support structure, which complies with US federal impact regulations.
The suspension is comprised of double wishbones, aluminum control arms, horizontally-opposed coil-over dampers with electronically controlled compression and rebound tuning, stainless-steel push rods and a blade configured anti-roll bar. The power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering has an overall ratio of 16:1 with 2.4 turns lock-to-lock and a turning circle of 36.0 feet.
The ME Four-Twelve braking system features massive 15.0-inch (381 mm) ventilated carbon ceramic composite disc brake rotors with six-piston aluminum mono block calipers for superior braking performance during all driving conditions. The composite discs are sixty-five percent lower in weight than comparable cast iron rotors. Wheels are cast aluminum: 19x10-inch front and 20x12.5-inch rear. Michelin high-performance radials are 265/35ZR19 in the front and 335/30ZR20 in the rear.
At just 44.9 inches tall, 78.7 inches wide and 178.8-inches long, the two-seat, mid-engine ME Four-Twelve was wind tunnel tested in Auburn Hills. The computer controlled active rear spoiler articulates rearward 100 mm to increase down-force to a total of 925 lbs. (421 kg) at 186 mph (300 km/h), while achieving a competitive coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.358. All body openings have been optimized to achieve maximum thermal performance. Large vented front and rear wheel houses reduce lift as well as active and passive aerodynamic devices that have been implemented to provide stable vehicle performance at all speeds.
The interior is relatively spacious with 37.2 in (942 mm) of headroom, and 42.7 in (1085 mm) of legroom. A large glass roof panel extends from the windshield to the rear header. Passenger-side adjustable foot support helps keep the co-pilot in position during extreme cornering maneuvers
This vehicle breaks the mold of the super car genre because its packaging can easily accommodate drivers in a wide range of heights. Ease of access to driving controls was a primary focus. For example, there are steering wheel mounted controls, including a column mounted F-1 racing style paddle shifter with aluminum shift paddles and centrally mounted driver controls.
Styling was done by a young and friendly Chrysler designer, Brian Nielander, who normally designs trucks; he worked directly with engineers and aerodynamics experts to shape the interior and exterior and make sure that the engineers did not make the ME-412 uncomfortable.
Wolfgang Bernhard, Chief Operating Officer - Chrysler Group, said, "It's everything we’ve learned about creating exciting, desirable automobiles. And, as such, it's not really a concept car but is, in fact, a prototype that will be road-ready by summer."
The SLR McLaren is the top of the Mercedes [sport] line.. they've spent millions on it.. and they've spent years on it.. it represents the best of anything Mercedes.
Enter the ME-412.. they took a Mercedes engine.. took it to Mercedes tuner... they spent a year.. and outdid the SLR McLaren..
Chrysler can do in 12 months what it takes Mercedes years.. and not only can it do that, it can do that with their parts for less and better to boot!