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Chrysler invests in EV R&D in Canada

Electric vehicle research and development to be conducted at McMaster University

Published: October 30, 2013, 10:00 PM

Fiat 500E - front 3/4 view

Chrysler Group has entered into a five-year partnership with McMaster University to develop next-generation, energy-efficient, high-performance electric powertrains and powertrain components suitable for a range of vehicle applications.

The project consists of three phases, each building on the achievements of the previous one, with the final phase scheduled to conclude in March of 2018.

A total of $18.2 million has been committed to the project with $9.25 million in cash and in-kind contributions coming from Chrysler and $8.93 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

NSERC is the lead agency within Automotive Partnership Canada (APC), an initiative to support industry research at Canadian universities and government laboratories.

Work on the project will be conducted primarily at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, where 20 engineers from Chrysler’s Global Electrified Powertrain Group and seven McMaster research engineers will be teamed with 16 faculty members and 80 graduate and undergraduate engineering students.

The partners will also make use of various Chrysler laboratories and test vehicles.

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

"This project harnesses the kind of intellectual capital and collaboration required to respond to such challenges," he added.

To advance Chrysler Group’s electrification strategy, the partnership will develop multiple prototypes of critical components, platforms and tools to strengthen the company’s future product lines.

Six facets of vehicle electrification will be explored:

> Electrified powertrain architecture and optimization

> Power electronics

> Electric machines

> Motor control

> Energy management systems

> Embedded software

Because low production volumes and associated high costs are significant factors in limiting the market penetration of electrified vehicles, affordability will be a key factor in the technology that emerges from the Chrysler-McMaster partnership.

For example, the electric machine activity will target ways to reduce rare-earth mineral content in the magnets that enable electric motor operation.

Component reliability, durability, weight, size and scalability will also be primary considerations, as will energy storage solutions such as ultra-capacitors.

In addition to the technological gains Chrysler will reap from the partnership, students will benefit from training in an area of growing importance to the auto industry. The company will also have an opportunity to bolster its engineering ranks by drawing from the pool of McMaster graduates.

Chrysler Canada currently employs more than 200 engineers at two assembly plants, a casting plant and the Chrysler Canada/University of Windsor Automotive Research and Development Centre in Windsor, ON.