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Is a Hurricane key to FCA’s health?

by David Zatz on

Analysis. A Hurricane may be needed for Fiat Chrysler to keep customers and avoid laying out cash for gas-mileage credits.

The 2.4 liter World Engine and 1.4 liter FIRE engine have not pleased critics or customers; many people who came in shopping for a four-cylinder Cherokee left with a V6 … or empty-handed.

The 2.4’s poor city mileage, in return, leaves Chrysler buying fuel economy credits from competitors.

A solution is coming in the form of the Hurricane engine. Bearing some exterior resemblance to the World Engine, it seems to have many differences; the normal MultiAir version is to be at least 240 horsepower, with a planned high-output version eschewing the Fiat valve controls.

The extra power, well above fairly recent V6 engines, would make it more viable for the Cherokee and 200; but, if it is really not a chip off the bold WGE block, it could change the character of the cars it’s in, especially the four-cylinder-only models like the Compass, Renegade, 500X, and Dart.

A hybrid version would overcome turbo lag easily;  the electric motors would give it a good push while the air-pump spun up. What’s more, with the boost (so to speak) from a hybrid, it could easily replace the V6 in bigger, heavier vehicles.

Once the engine has some proven durability under its belt, it could be handy under the hoods of ProMaster City vans.

I could not drive the Fiat 500X without thinking how much better it would be with a 2-liter turbo engine, tuned to American tastes. It might even get better gas mileage, if it was a better design, or just by being more suitable for the task. Modern dual-scroll turbochargers have really helped cut back turbo lag.

Insiders claim the Hurricane was scheduled for this spring or summer; FCA needs it yesterday, but by the end of the year would be a fine time to keep sales on track and stop the insidious incentives creep.

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