AUBURN HILLS, MI – Fiat Chrysler says it will launch a new line of small gasoline engines next year and begin proliferating 48V, mild-hybrid powertrains as it looks to meet toughening emissions and fuel-economy regulations.
The new gasoline, aluminum-block engines, which represent a $2 billion investment, will feature advanced technology, powertrain chief Bob Lee says here, including much of it borrowed from diesels.
Among planned features are a twin-scroll turbocharger, stop/start system, direct injection, integrated exhaust manifold, Fiat Chrysler’s MultiAir valvetrain and a number of low-friction components.
The engines will be offered in two displacements per cylinder configuration, with multiple power ratings and available either naturally aspirated or with forced induction, Lee notes.
There will be some additional features, he adds, but says he does not want to disclose details just yet.
The new engines are expected to meet growing demand for small-displacement powerplants worldwide, Lee says. He projects 4-cyl. engines will account for 48% of Fiat Chrysler’s North American vehicle sales in 2018, compared with 27% today, while engines with fewer cylinders will grow to 20% of volume in Latin America and 42% of sales in Europe.
Despite that movement, Lee says, Chrysler’s Hemi and SRT V-8s still will have a place in the automaker’s portfolio in 2018.
Like other automakers, most of Fiat Chrysler’s powertrain actions are centered on meeting ever- toughening fuel-economy and carbon-dioxide emissions targets that culminate in a 54.5 mpg (4.3 L/100 km) bogey in the U.S. for 2025.
But Lee says automakers also must recognize consumer demands that can run counter to regulatory standards and business cases that often are weak for new technology. Americans, he notes, have not warmed up to fuel-saving dual-clutch automatic transmissions, for example. And costs of such alternative-powertrain systems as fuel-cells and electrification currently are much higher than buyers are willing to pay.
As a result, the automaker will focus as much as possible on economical solutions, such as its 8-/9-speed automatic transmissions and increasing availability of diesels. The multispeed transmissions, which replace several older units, will account for 52% of Fiat Chrysler volume in 2018 in North America and 46% in the Asia-Pacific region.
Although diesel offerings will expand, Lee says, the engine will continue to take only about a 6% share of Fiat Chrysler’s North American sales.
But Fiat Chrysler also reluctantly will move more toward electrification with plug-in-hybrid minivans and CUVs to come beginning in 2017, Lee says. In addition it will begin a “broad market penetration” with mild hybrids based on a 48V electrical architecture beginning in 2016.
Lee says “electrification has been overblown by media,” noting the market continues to be driven by regulatory needs, not consumer demand. “But we’ll launch PHEVs to address (zero-emissions regulations) and mild hybrids to comply with greenhouse-gas (CO2 standards).”