DETROIT--Chrysler Group, known for large gas-guzzling engines, is quickly developing fuel-efficient power trains under Paolo Ferrero, senior vice president of Chrysler Powertrain.
With Fiat and Chrysler expertise at his disposal, Ferrero has a range of options, including diesels, natural-gas vehicles, turbocharging, more applications for Fiat's MultiAir system, hybrids, electrics, and transmissions with eight and nine speeds.
Ferrero, a native of Turin, Italy, started his Fiat career in 1980 in the Abarth Racing Development unit. After working his way up in Fiat Powertrain, he joined Chrysler in 2009.
He's a racing enthusiast and has designed and tested rally vehicles and worked with a powerboat racing team.
Seeking diesel engineers
One big opportunity is diesel engines, and Chrysler is advertising for diesel engineers.
"We have a great opportunity to leverage the competence Fiat has on the diesel side," Ferrero said in an interview at the Society of Automotive Engineers convention in Detroit last week. "We are studying this and looking for U.S. opportunities."
Ferrero declined to discuss vehicle programs. But Jeep CEO Mike Manley told reporters April 7 that Jeep could offer diesel engines on some models within three years.
Ferrero said Chrysler needs diesel expertise in Auburn Hills as it brings more diesel offerings to diesel-dominated Europe. The automaker also needs to be ready if North America becomes more diesel-friendly.
That could happen in 2014, when the next phase of emissions rules in Europe, Euro 6, move closer to U.S. standards. With essentially one standard, autos could be developed for larger volumes, cutting costs.
Chrysler is also studying other options, including wider applications of Fiat's MultiAir system, which increases fuel economy by regulating intake valves for each cylinder.
"We are studying gasoline direct injection, MultiAir, turbocharging. We will decide which is the best combination to use for the future," said Ferrero.
The Chrysler 200 will be the first vehicle to get a Fiat-developed dual-clutch transmission, and other vehicles will follow, including possibly a Dodge compact sedan due in 2012. Dual-clutch transmissions shift automatically but are more efficient than conventional automatic transmissions.
The 2012 Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger will get an eight-speed transmission for rear-drive vehicles developed with German supplier ZF Friedrichshafen. Chrysler and ZF also have developed a nine-speed automatic for front-drive vehicles such as Chrysler's minivans.
Ferrero also said Chrysler could use its Pentastar V-6 engine in the Dodge Ram 1500 light-duty pickup. The Pentastar engine is replacing seven older six-cylinder engines in most other Chrysler vehicles.
(Source: Automotive News)