The Chrysler Group addressed automotive propulsion technology and its future during the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan.

Mark Chernoby, the company’s vice president advance vehicle engineering for the Chrysler Group, shared success stories and challenges on a variety of powertrain technologies, and their relevance in today’s marketplace.

“The Chrysler Group strives to provide benefits and value through practical innovation,” said Chernoby. “It is imperative that these benefits meet customer expectations at the right price.”

“The Chrysler Group will continue to address issues currently facing consumers,” he added. “Through technologies such as Multi-Displacement System for today’s internal combustion engine, electric and hybrid powertrains, advanced diesel engines, and fuel cells, concerns about fuel economy, emissions and dependency on oil are being met. The challenge is to develop practical innovations which provide sufficient value for our customers to ultimately yield significant market penetration of fuel saving technologies.”

One of the latest innovations to join sophisticated electronic engine controls is the Multi-Displacement System (MDS) with cylinder deactivation.  The MDS is standard equipment on the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 and switches from eight cylinders to four in just 40 milliseconds, improving fuel economy up to 20%. The engine will also be offered in the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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DaimlerChrysler is also the leader in sales of neighbourhood electric vehicles with its Global Electric Motors vehicle line.  Electric vehicles are well-suited for certain applications, allowing owners to enjoy quiet, economical and pollution-free vehicles.

Advanced diesel engine technology is another viable option to help the United States in reducing its dependency on oil and lowering carbon dioxide emissions. The modern diesel is quieter, more powerful and more efficient than what was available in the United States years ago. These engines offer up to 30% improved fuel economy compared to a similar gasoline engine, and 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. These improvements are experienced in a variety of driving conditions.  The Chrysler Group will enter the North American market with a diesel-powered Jeep Liberty in 2004. Furthermore, 60% of the Chrysler and Jeep vehicles sold in Europe are diesel powered.

Hybrid technology is also being launched at the Chrysler Group.  A Dodge Ram Heavy Duty 2500/3500 Quad Cab diesel-electric hybrid (Ram HEV) will be sold to select fleet customers late this year. This programme applies fuel-saving hybrid technology to a pick-up truck product where fuel consumption is the greatest. The Ram HEV is unique because it combines diesel and electric technology for propulsion.  The vehicle also has the capability of generating electric power for on-site utility – enough electricity to power four average households in the United States.

Fuel cell vehicles also hold great promise. DaimlerChrysler works in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and UPS on a real- world fuel-cell demonstration programme. The first of its kind in North America, an F-Cell vehicle is currently in operation in the harsh Midwest climate in the UPS fleet.

“Odds are there still may not be one dominant propulsion technology in ten years,” said Chernoby. “That’s why at the Chrysler Group, practical innovation that closely meets the needs, expectations and aspirations of our customers, at an attractive price remains our objective. All of this can translate into enormous value for us, our customers, shareholders and society.”