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Chrysler Plans to Develop Electric and Hybrid Technologies

by Stanley Yee on

Chrysler Group has partnered with McMaster University and the Canadian government to develop new electric and hybrid vehicle systems. The partnership will last for the next five years, with $18.2 million worth of funding from Chrysler and their partners.

The research will take place mostly at McMaster University, one of the top schools in Canada. Chrysler will be sending 20 of their Global Electrified Powertrain Group members to the university, where they will work with seven McMaster research engineers, 16 faculty members, and 80 graduate and undergraduate students. As a part of the partnership, the McMaster researchers will get access to Chrysler laboratories and test vehicles.

Chrysler has broken the research project into six different areas of study: electrified powertrain architecture and optimization, power electronics, electric machines, motor control, energy management systems, and embedded software. The researchers will be tasked to create prototypes and tools to improve Chrysler's electric vehicle technology. Affordability will be key for the project. Up until now, electric technology was often limited by the prohibitively expensive materials like rare-earth minerals. Other important issues include reliability, durability, weight, size, and scalability. The researchers will also study ultra-capacitors as a means to store electric power.

The knowledge gained from the partnership will likely be important for Chrysler's future in alternative fuels. The only Chrysler production vehicle with an electric or hybrid drivetrain is the Fiat 500e electric vehicle. Chrysler has worked with the U.S. Department of Energy to create V8 hybrid Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicles, but so far none have made it to production.

Not only will Chrysler gain from the research, but so too will the students at McMaster University. The partnership will give them hands-on experience in cutting edge research, and Chrysler will be keeping a close eye on any possible students to recruit.

The project will be executed in three phases, with the last phase ending in March 2018. Of the $18.2 million worth of funding, Chrysler provided $9.25, while the remaining $8.93 was provided by Canadian research funding. Chrysler currently sells the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6, which provides best-in-class fuel economy for the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee. With improved hybrid and electric technology, it will be likely to see a new attempt at making an electric or hybrid vehicle.

“We at McMaster are truly excited by the opportunities this funding creates,” said Patrick Deane, president of McMaster University. “It allows our researchers to focus on developing the automotive technology that will enable more sustainable, efficient, and safe travel, as well as promote greater economic stability.”

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