Chrysler will add eight and nine speed transmissions to some of its upcoming vehicles in order to enhance fuel economy and satisfy more stringent emissions standards, Bloomberg reports.
The American automaker, which is controlled by Fiat, will reportedly begin installing eight-speed transmissions by the end of 2012, while nine-speed varieties will make their way into unspecified vehicle models starting in 2013, according to Mircea Gradu, vice president of transmission powertrain and driveline engineering.
The practice of adding gears to a transmission in order to achieve greater returns on fuel economy isn’t exactly new. The technology features in many luxury vehicles from BMW to Mercedes-Benz, while Chrysler itself has already begun offering eight-speed transmissions in both the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans since the 2011 model year.
Having already enjoyed a 15-percent increase in highway fuel economy with both the Charger and 300, the company is hoping that the introduction of a nine-speed transmission will see fuel efficiency boosted by as much as 16-percent in models such as the Dodge Grand Caravan.
As it stands, Chrysler has invested $1.3 billion in transmission technology since 2007, a sizeable chunk no doubt, but one that pales in comparison to what many other automakers have devoted towards electric drivetrains.
Indeed, the company’s strategy is indicative of Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne’s desire to explore more conventional engines rather than throw money into costly alternatives such as battery-powered electrics.
And so far it seems to be working. The Detroit-based automaker has invested less than its rivals and seen combined deliveries for both the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger rise by nearly 68-percent through the first six months of 2012.