Canadian Manufacturing

Chrysler confirms role in $52M Canadian automotive R&D initiative

Automaker investing about $10-million in electric and hybrid powertrain, lightweighting projects



HAMILTON, Ont.—Automaker Chrysler Group LLC announced it will join the Canadian government in funding research and development of next-generation hybrid and electric powertrains and lightweight alloys.

According to Chrysler, it will chip in approximately $10-million while partnering with McMaster University on a pair of research and development initiatives that will explore the future of green vehicles and lightweighting.

“Legislative pressure and socioeconomic forces are compelling the auto industry to deliver unparalleled technological advancement at an unprecedented rate,” Chrysler Group vice-president and head of engine, powertrain and electrified propulsion systems engineering Bob Lee said in a statement.

The pair of projects are part of a larger R&D initiative in Canada that will see approximately $52-million invested by the federal government and industry partners to university-led research projects.

Chrysler said 20 of its engineers will join seven McMaster research engineers, 16 faculty members and 80 graduate and undergraduate engineering students where the team will explore the future of hybrid and electric powertrain technology.

Because low production volumes and the associated high component costs have conspired to limit market penetration of electrified vehicles, Chrysler said affordability will be a hallmark of the technology that emerges from its partnership with McMaster.

Component reliability, durability, weight, size and scalability will be primary considerations as commercial applications are expected to span a variety of powertrains and a range of vehicle segments

Energy storage solutions such as ultra-capacitors will also be a key focus.

The five-year initiative will see Chrysler invest $9.25-million in cash and in-kind contributions, with an additional $8.93-million coming from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The three-year, $3.9-million weight-saving R&D project will also be centred at McMaster and will explore the use of aluminum and magnesium alloys for vehicle production.

Chrysler said it is part of a consortium of four industrial partners that will make in-kind contributions totaling $1.4-million.

NSERC will invest $2-million in the project.

The partnership will explore ways to improve the strength and corrosion resistance of aluminum and magnesium.

Researchers will look to align any improvements with existing casting methods, so the enhanced alloys can be integrated more readily with the vehicle production process, and with less added cost.

“There is no silver bullet to improve vehicle fuel economy, so Chrysler is actively exploring every technology that shows promise,” Chrysler Automotive Research Development Centre (ARDC) head Tony Mancina said.

“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.”

Researchers at McMaster will co-ordinate with Ryerson University in Toronto and the University of Trento, in northwestern Italy, on the project.

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