Want to Save Over a Billion Dollars on Fuel? Chrysler Does…

Fuel economy is one of the biggest things on the minds of people looking to purchase a car.  I saw this all the time when I was a sales consultant back in Sioux Falls.  And as consumers increasingly desire savings at the pump, Chrysler is meeting them where it matters.  The Auburn Hills, Michigan based automaker continues to push their TorqueFlite 8 Speed Automatic Transmission.

2014 Chrysler 300 equipped with the TorqueFlite Transmission.  The 300 hold the best-in-class highway fuel economy for a full-size AWD sedan with a V-6 (27 mpg city)

2014 Chrysler 300 equipped with the TorqueFlite 8 Speed Transmission. The 300 holds best-in-class highway fuel economy for a full-size, AWD sedan with a V-6 .


Do you like math?  Well, the guys at Chrysler do…it’s a big part of their job.

Here are the numbers they have crunched:

  • TorqueFlite Transmissions are projected to save more than 700 million gallons of gasoline; worth an estimated $2.5 billion, based on current forecasts
  • Total estimated reduction in C02 emissions equals six million metric tonnes
  • 2014 TorqueFlite equipped Chrysler vehicles boast 19 fuel-economy/driving-range benchmarks across four vehicle segments (see below for more details) 

“The original focus was purely fuel economy. We were searching for new architectures that would meet both regulatory fuel economy requirements and customer needs for improved fuel economy,” James Adams told me in regards to the TorqueFlite.  Adams is the Chief Engineer for RWD Transmissions for Chrysler Group LLC.

“In a relatively short period of time, Chrysler needed to overhaul its transmission offerings to the new generation of TorqueFlite Automatics to meet those standards,” he said.

Transmission cases travel down the assembly line at Chrysler Group's Kokomo Transmission Plant.

Transmission cases travel down the assembly line at Chrysler Group’s Kokomo Transmission Plant.

As they emerge from the recent hardships in Detroit, Chrysler has put great emphasis on developing a new transmission for a new generation of drivers.  The automaker invests nearly $2.5 billion in their powertrain operations, which is about half of their manufacturing outlay.

In other words, this is serious stuff for them!

Kokomo Transmission Plant Employee

An employee installs a torque converter into an eight-speed transmission bellhousing at Chrysler Group’s Kokomo Transmission Plant.

Adams and his team used virtual tools to expunge any bugs as the transmission designs were put through simulation.  TorqueFlite transmissions were then run across all engine/vehicle combinations with bench, dyno and finally, vehicle tests.

The dyno covered everything from minor parking lot maneuvers to more serious wide open throttle driving.  Chrysler Engineers also ran the dyno tests to cover towing, hilly country roads and even high speed European driving cycles.

“Overall the TorqueFlite 8 transmission provides a great deal of flexibility in both the hardware and software,” Adams said.  “This offers an efficient and high performing powertrain across a wide range of vehicle types and driving.”

An employees dunks an eight-speed transmission into water to test for leaks or porosity in the case at Chrysler Group's Kokomo Transmission Plant.

An eight-speed transmission gets dunked into water to test for leaks or porosity at Chrysler Group’s Kokomo Transmission Plant.

When driving a Chrysler equipped with a TorqueFlite 8 speed transmission, the numerically high first gear ratio (4.7) gives greater torque; quite useful for towing.  The numerically low (0.67) eighth gear ratio provides stellar highway cruising for that beloved fuel economy.  I was particularly interested in learning that TorqueFlite has 90 shift maps integrated into the software – which covers about any imaginable mode of driving.

For instance, specific maps exists for paddle shifting and manual shifting with sport and track modes too.

And the shift maps for Jeep?  They include rock, sand, mud, hill descent and 4WD low.  In case you are towing through hills or in slippery conditions, you can count on a shift map for that too, all with fuel savings in mind.

Construction

Advanced-Technology Automatics

The TorqueFlite employs a precise arrangement of gears and clutches, originally created in simulation, to provide the fuel economy benefits mentioned above.  But what about efficiency and shift quality?  Well, the design of the gears inside TorqueFlite minimizes drag losses by only having two of the five clutch packs open in any gear. This provides small and evenly spaced steps between the gears and thus, eliminating that “feel of shifting.”

Essentially, you travel through all 8 gears without the transmission appearing overly busy.

The TorqueFlite 8 Speed Transmission

The TorqueFlite 8 Speed Transmission

The low viscosity fluid of TorqueFlite is termed “fill for life.”  This means you can avoid having to do a transmission fluid flush under normal driving conditions.  While fluid flushes always vary in price, the dealership I was part of charged about $200 for the service.  That’s $200 saved in service costs, off the bat.

Once fully assembled, eight-speed transmissions await shipping to various Chrysler Group assembly plants from the Kokomo Transmission Plant.

Once fully assembled, eight-speed transmissions await shipping to various Chrysler Group assembly plants from the Kokomo Transmission Plant.

The Bottom Line

If you are a long time Chrysler fan, this is a no brainier.  It will be very easy to see it as another win for the team.  However, if you have never given Chrysler the time of day, the TorqueFlite might be a good reason to at least take a peek over the fence.  Performance car fans should note that for 2015, the TorqueFlite will tag team with the HEMI for the Dodge Chargers, Challengers and Challenger SRTs.

It’s big muscles combined with billion dollar fuel economy!

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat equipped with the TorqueFlite Transmission.

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat equipped with the TorqueFlite Transmission.

Living in Detroit I may be a little bit biased.  But that’s okay.  I see an entire city here trying to make changes and make a comeback for the better. The big three automakers are an integral part of that journey and things like the TorqueFlite show even though bad times have happened, the Americans can still deliver on a global scale.

Eight-speed transmission housings prepare to move down the assembly line at Chrysler Group's Kokomo Transmission Plant.

Eight-speed transmission housings prepare to move down the assembly line at Chrysler Group’s Kokomo Transmission Plant.


TorqueFlite gear ratios:

  • 4.71
  • 3.14
  • 2.10
  • 1.67
  • 1.29
  • 1.00
  • 0.84
  • 0.67

2014 benchmarks to which TorqueFlite technology contributes to, as provided by Chrysler Group LLC:

  • Best-in-class city fuel economy, 2WD full-sized pickups (20 mpg; Ram 1500)
  • Best-in-class highway fuel economy, 2WD full-sized pickups (28 mpg; Ram 1500)
  • Best-in-class combined fuel economy, 2WD full-sized pickups (23 mpg; Ram 1500)
  • Best-in-class city fuel economy, 4WD full-sized pickups (19 mpg; Ram 1500)
  • Best-in-class highway fuel economy, 4WD full-sized pickups (27 mpg; Ram 1500)
  • Best-in-class combined fuel economy, 4WD full-sized pickups (22 mpg; Ram 1500)
  • Best-in-class city fuel economy, 2WD mid-size SUVs, non-hybrid (22 mpg; Jeep Grand Cherokee)
  • Best-in-class highway fuel economy, 2WD mid-size SUVs (30 mpg; Jeep Grand Cherokee)
  • Best-in-class combined fuel economy, 2WD mid-size SUVs, non-hybrid (25 mpg; Jeep Grand Cherokee)
  • Best-in-class driving range, mid-size SUV (730+ miles; Jeep Grand Cherokee)
  • Best-in-class driving range, full-size SUV with V-6 (600+ miles; Dodge Durango, full-size SUV)
  • Best-in-class driving range, gasoline-powered mid-size SUV (600+ miles; Jeep Grand Cherokee)
  • Best-in-class highway fuel economy, full-size RWD sedan with V-6 (31 mpg highway; Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300)
  • Best-in-class highway fuel economy, full-size AWD sedan with V-6 (27 mpg city; Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300)
  • Unsurpassed* city fuel economy, full-size AWD sedan with V-6 (18 mpg city; Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300)
  • Unsurpassed* combined fuel economy, full-size RWD sedan with V-6 (23 mpg; Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300)
  • Unsurpassed* combined fuel economy, full-size AWD sedan with V-6 (21 mpg; Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300)
  • Unsurpassed* city fuel economy, full-size RWD sedan with V-6 (19 mpg; Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300)
  • Unsurpassed* city fuel economy, full-size AWD sedan with V-6 (18 mpg; Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300)

PHOTOS: Chrysler Group Media
Special Thanks: Eric Mayne, Media Relations Mgr.-Engineering/Powertrain/Safety/Regulatory Issues, Chrysler Group


Filed Under: Car NewsCar TechChryslerDriving


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