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Changes to Chrysler electronics: CANbus, GPEC, PowerNet

When Daimler took over Chrysler, it quickly moved to replace older car electronics systems with the newer CANbus. CAN stands for “Controller Area Network,” and it’s used in modern cars to keep their electronics talking over a bus — a set of cables that carry all sorts of different signals to different places, using less wiring than if they had simple direct connections.

Having a bus slashes the amount of wire needed, but it means that every part has to “listen” to a constant stream of information, taking out only what it needs, and adding to the flow when it can. Sometimes, there’s a dedicated chip that does nothing but separate out what a part needs to know, from all the chatter.

Once the electronics filter out important bits from the flow, they send signals to various electromechanical parts — for example, pushing down the gas pedal signals the computer that you want more fuel, and the computer sends a message to the throttle motor to open the throttle (and to the fuel injectors to increase their firing rate). The same system is used to unlock the doors, light indicators, and such.

Until 2011, Chrysler used a system based on Mercedes’ practices, dubbed the Global Powertrain Engine Controller (GPEC). Then they phased in PowerNet, starting with the 2011 300, Charger, and Journey. The company adapted its existing GPEC (Global Powertrain Engine Controller), which dated back to the first LX cars in 2004, to work with PowerNet.

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