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Enhancing our powertrains to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy
Maximizing powertrain efficiency is part of FCA’s commitment to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy.
This means not only developing more efficient engines and transmissions, but also optimizing the vehicle/powertrain system. Selection of the most suitable powertrain (engine and transmission) is based on vehicle type and use.
In multiple regions, completely new global small and medium gasoline engine families are being developed to improve fuel economy and emission levels. These new engine families feature a modular approach from a shared cylinder design (allowing for different engine configurations, displacements, efficiency and power outputs) and are expected to cover a large range of vehicle applications and introduce features and technologies such as direct injection, downsizing, turbocharging, and cooled exhaust gas recirculation to improve efficiency, while also addressing internal friction and thermal management. In particular, both a 1.0-liter three cylinder and a 1.3-liter four cylinder Firefly global small engine application launched in the LATAM region in third quarter of 2016. The first global medium engine application (a 2.0-liter turbo four cylinder engine) launched in the Alfa Romeo Giulia in the fourth quarter of 2016 and Alfa Romeo Stelvio in the first quarter of 2017. This new engine is manufactured in Termoli (Italy).
All regions are implementing Engine Stop-Start (ESS) applications. In the EMEA region, the adoption of ESS has been extended to the entire vehicle range in order to improve average CO2 emissions; in the NAFTA region, ESS was extended to Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango models. Research activities on gasoline engines have primarily been focused on further increasing overall engine efficiency through a combination of synergistic technologies, (i.e. high compression ratio matched with GDI and boosting) especially under real driving conditions.
In recent years, diesel research has focused on the combustion process and after-treatment technologies. On the combustion side, enhanced control of injection parameters together with optimization of combustion bowl shape represented a key step in reducing “engine-out” pollutants and enhancing fuel economy.
The new 2.2-liter aluminum block diesel engine was introduced in the recently-launched Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio models with a power output ranging from 150 to 210 horsepower. The engine is available with both manual and automatic transmissions, and in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. On the Alfa Romeo Giulia, an eight-speed automatic transmission “Advanced Efficiency” variant was launched, which combines high performance and CO2 emissions as low as 99 g/km in the combined cycle. To achieve these competitive CO2 emission levels, this variant incorporates technologies such as a smart alternator; optimization of the engine cooling circuit to reduce warm-up time; variable displacement oil pump; and Engine Stop-Start technology.
In terms of aftertreatment systems, research and development activities have mainly focused on continuous improvements to passive and active NOx reduction technologies optimized for the next generation diesel powertrains. Advanced aftertreatment systems for the reduction of NOx emissions are under development both for passenger car and light commercial vehicle applications. In particular, we have incorporated the selective catalytic reduction (SCR) aftertreatment system to reduce NOx emissions in Fiat Ducato vehicles coupled with 2.3-liter diesel engines.
FCA offers a well-balanced transmission portfolio that includes manual transmissions, automated manual transmissions, dual dry clutch transmissions (DDCT) and automatic transmissions. This broad offering is designed to meet market demands and regulatory requirements in the different regions where we operate, and to achieve the right vehicle performance characteristics for our individual brands. The use of DDCT, a core technology for the Group, has recently been launched in new applications in markets where customers value this technology.
The transmission plays an important role in achieving improvements in the overall CO2 reduction and improved fuel economy. The technologies used in the transmission allow for optimizing the power output of the engine and transferring the power derived from the engine to the road in an efficient manner. One method is to use enhanced torsional vibration damping at the output of the engine. This is achieved through use of long travel dampers and also includes the use of pendulum dampers to allow the engine to operate at a lower speed and high output torque. In this area the engine is more efficient converting the fuel energy to mechanical energy.
Another area fuel economy improvements were made is with the use of hybrid powertrains. The single-input electrically variable transmission used in the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a dual electric motor system along with a unique gear arrangement to optimize the use of the power output of the internal combustion engine. This system has the ability to utilize the power regeneration to slow the vehicle. Besides the improvements used to operate the internal combustion engine, other improvements in the transmission are used to reduce the operational power consumption of the transmission.
The Group offers 8- and 9-speed automatic transmissions developed to provide our customers with improved efficiency, performance and drive comfort. Particular focus is placed on optimizing the engine-transmission matching to achieve more efficient powertrain solutions for each vehicle segment. The second generation TorqueFlite 8-speed improves transmission efficiency via improved line pressure control and reduced clutch drag by adding clutch separator rings.
The addition of transmission oil heaters allows for the transmission to quickly warm up to operating temperatures to achieve optimal transmission efficiency. There are many other technologies being investigated to reduce the power consumption of the transmission such as switchable one way clutches, oil viscosity reduction, and the use of simulation to right size components in the system.