Chrysler, unlike rivals GM and Ford, seems to really not to want to be involved in green vehicle development, despite what it might speak to when it announces new technology developments in this area. A few months back it got excited about a partnership which would help it evaluate if electric-vehicle batteries can generate revenue as well as power, even as it said at the same time that “the present regulatory climate we live in compels all auto makers to explore alternatives such as electrification.” It now has announced a project focused on alternative drivetrains, but again there’s a big “the government is holding a gun to our head” message built in as well.
First, the partnership. The automaker said it has entered a
5-year, $18.2 million partnership with McMaster University, with funding support from the Canadian government, to develop next-generation, energy-efficient, high-performance electrified powertrains and powertrain components.
In this new endeavor, 20 of its engineers, along with seven McMaster research engineers, will team up with 16 faculty members and 80 graduate and undergraduate engineering students to make use of Chrysler Group laboratories and test vehicles. They will look to develop multiple prototypes of critical components, platforms and tools that help explore six facets of vehicle electrification.
Chrysler will be studying affordability of electrification technology during this time, with primary considerations being given to component reliability, durability, weight, size and scalability across a span of of powertrains and a range of vehicle segments. Energy storage solutions such as ultra-capacitors also will be a key focus.
While this all sounds well and good, the intentions behind it help deflate the enthusiasm one might think is going on in Chrysler about embracing this new frontier. As one of its vice presidents said in the news release around this, “legislative pressure and socioeconomic forces are compelling the auto industry to deliver unparalleled technological advancement at an unprecedented rate.” That’s not exactly what one calls a happy sounding statement.
Still, Chrysler hasn’t totally been a lame duck in the space. It did, for example, debut in the U.S. the well received Fiat 500e battery-electric vehicle, and it has also worked with the U.S. Department of Energy to produce “test fleets that included 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.”