Chrysler Begins Production of Hybrid SUVs

By dancurranjr On August 26th, 2008

Chrysler LLC’s new Hybrid Electric Vehicles began rolling off the assembly line last week at its Newark, Del. assembly plant.

Chrysler is offering the two-mode hybrid powertrain on both vehicles built at the plant, Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen. Both offer substantially improved MPG over their conventional counterparts.

In order to smoothly add one of the automotive industry’s most advanced technologies into their established build process, cross-functional launch teams conducted highly accurate, cost-effective computer simulation of new assembly processes. Similar efforts were conducted at tooling suppliers.

“The implementation of this new manufacturing process was done intelligently, with both quality and cost in mind,” said Joe Ozdowy, plant manager of Newark Assembly. “I’d like to congratulate and thank the team for their dedication while bringing these important new products to market to help satisfy the changing needs of our Dodge and Chrysler customers.”

“The members of UAW Local 1183 continue to prove that they have the expertise, the experience, the training and the professionalism to successfully accomplish the most demanding and complex work,” said Larry Dixon, President of UAW Local 1183. “This demonstration of excellence is something the men and women of UAW 1183 and UAW 1212 should be proud of.”

The production of early pilot vehicles was done on the plant’s assembly line which helped to root out anomalies early in the pre-production process, helping to ensure a higher quality launch.

Production of vehicles with the hybrid powertrain differs in several ways from production of those with conventional powertrains. New processes were implemented to accommodate HEV production, including a unique powertrain assembly process, and ergonomic-assist systems to aid in new functions, such as HEV battery installation.

There are several unique components associated with HEV production that are installed at the plant, including:

* 300-volt battery
* Two-mode transmission
* Torque power inverter module (TPIM)
* Electric air conditioning
* Auxiliary power module
* High-voltage cables (AC and DC)
* Hydro-electric power steering pump
* Hybrid gate way module
* Cooling module

The patented hybrid-electric drive system was developed at a Troy laboratory in partnership with General Motors, Daimler and BMW. It offers all-electic operations at low speeds and modest loads, and elecric assist plus cylinder deactivation during straight-and-level high-speed cruising. It also uses regenerative braking to use the energy normally dissipated as heat during braking to recharge the vehicle’s battery pack.

Pricing for the full-size 4×4 sport-utility hybrid electric vehicles is nearly $8,000 below the competition introduced earlier this year by GM. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the new 2009 Dodge Durango HEMI(R) Hybrid is $45,340, including $800 for destination. The MSRP for the new 2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid is $45,570, including $800 for destination. Additionally, customers are expected to receive an estimated tax credit of $1,800.


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