American car-maker announces both mild and two-mode hybrid systems
2 July 2007

A new focus on the environment seems to be at the heart of the recovery plan for recently offloaded American car-maker Chrysler. Last week, it joined Ford and General Motors as a member of a lobbying group which bullies the US government into imposing carbon targets on US industry; now, it’s even announced a line of fuel-sipping hybrid-electric powertrains and ultra clean diesels.As of Thursday, both Chrysler and Ford became members of the United States Climate Action Partnership, which is calling on US Congress to set a target for reducing carbon emissions, and to initiate a program to accelerate technological research.The Chrysler Group will feel like leaders in the latter regard after announcing a host of powertrain improvements for 2008 that put the emphasis on fuel economy and low emissions.

Chrysler announces two new hybrid systems

Chrysler’s new range of fuel-efficient technologies are claimed to be part of its $3 billion “recovery and transformation plan,” intended to aid the company after its split with Daimler. However, they’re actually a leftover from the deal DaimlerChrysler struck with BMW to co-develop hybrid powertrains; Mercedes’ last gift to its ailing American patient, you might say.

Mild or two-mode: take your pick

Chrysler now has not one, but two hybrid technologies to call on; “mild” and “two-mode”. The mild hybrid technology involves the use of stop-start technology and regenerative braking energy store already seen in the BMW 118d. It’s likely to be integrated throughout the brand’s smaller models, very much as it has been at BMW, as a means to reduce the company’s fleet emissions. Chrysler’s two-mode hybrid system, however, will first appear in the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango sister SUVs. Like that in the Toyota Prius, it teams the cars’ petrol engine, in this case a 5.7-litre hemi V8, with an electric motor; unlike the Prius, Chrysler claims, it returns fuel economy improvements in both urban and extra urban driving. Overall fuel economy is bettered by 25 per cent, it says, while urban economy is 40 per cent better.

Will we see them in the UK?

When we put the question to Chrysler UK, it made no commitment to when either of these new environmental technologies would be seen on Chryslers, Jeeps and Dodges over here. With the pressure on Chrysler, just as it is on any other manufacturer, to bring its fleet carbon emissions down below 140g/km before 2012, we're likely to see the mild hybrid systems applied quite widely across existing models.The two-mode hybrid might be a possibility for the next Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Other new environmental credentials

Chrysler has also announced plans to include Mercedes’ 3.0-litre V6 Bluetec diesel engine – the “50-state diesel” that has attracted so much attention in the US because of its cleanliness – into the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram pick-up.

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