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Chrysler joins two tech partnerships

by David Zatz on

Chrysler has joined two technology partnerships, one to look into new metal alloys, and another to investigate electric cars.

Electric cars

The five-year, $18.2 million partnership with McMaster University includes funding from the Canadian government, to develop high-performance electrified powertrains and components. Chrysler is investing $9.25 million in cash and “in-kind contributions,” with nearly $9 million coming from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Work will be centered 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; Chrysler labs and test vehicles will be used as well.

The partnership will develop multiple prototypes of critical components, platforms, and tools, exploring:

  • Electrified powertrain architecture and optimization
  • Power electronics
  • Electric machines
  • Motor control
  • Energy management systems
  • Embedded software

Affordability will be a hallmark of the technology that emerges from the Chrysler-McMaster partnership; for example, they will try to reduce the rare-earth mineral content of motors.

Fiat 500e

Chrysler Group also will be on the lookout to bolster its engineering ranks by drawing from the pool of skilled McMaster graduates, according to Chrysler powertrain chief Bob Lee. Chrysler Canada employs more than 200 engineers at two assembly plants, a casting plant and the Chrysler Canada/University of Windsor Automotive Research and Development Centre in Windsor.

The final phase of the project is scheduled to conclude in March of 2018. The partnership builds on Chrysler’s electrification work including the Fiat 500e battery-electric vehicle (BEV).  Chrysler’s work with the U.S. Department of Energy has produced 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.

McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities among the Top 100 universities in the world, has a student population of 28,000.

New alloys

Chrysler has also 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. Chrysler is one of four industrial partners making in-kind contributions totaling $1.4 million. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will invest $2 million. The remaining funds will come from CANMET, an agency of Natural Resources Canada that works on clean energy.

“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 centred at McMaster University, whose researchers will co-ordinate activities with support from Ryerson University in Toronto and the University of Trento, in northwestern Italy. 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 will explore ways to improve the strength and corrosion resistance of aluminum and magnesium, and to use existing casting methods.

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