Friday, June 28, 2013

World-First Driveline, Breakthrough Transmission, Four New Engines Mark Milestone Model-Year for Chrysler Group

June 28, 2013 , Chelsea, Mich. - Chrysler Group mashes the throttle on engine, transmission and driveline debuts for model-year 2014.

The introductions, which span multiple model lines, send a clear message to the world.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to innovate for the benefit of our customers,” said Mircea Gradu, Vice President — Powertrain Transmission and Driveline Engineering and Head of Virtual Analysis. “Nowhere is this more evident than on the all-new 2014 Jeep® Cherokee.”

The all-new Cherokee’s stylish appearance belies the rugged capability delivered by its unique 4x4 system.

It is the first mid-size sport-utility (SUV) to feature a front-wheel-drive-based rear-axle disconnect system. It delivers four-wheel traction whenever it’s needed, without driver intervention.

A fully variable wet clutch housed in the rear drive module supplies the proper amount of torque for any traction condition. This capability also is a boon to aggressive starts.

Sophisticated algorithms enable the system to benefit driving dynamics by interacting with electronic stability control (ESC). When conditions are more favorable, it seamlessly switches to two-wheel-drive for optimum efficiency.

The system is available with either a one- or two-speed driveline (PTU and RDM). A locking differential is available with the two-speed PTU.

In low range, the 2.92:1 gear reduction also sets up aggressive crawl ratios – 56:1 when the vehicle is powered by the 2.4-liter Tigershark I-4 engine, and 47.8:1 when powered by the new 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6. Such specifications benefit off-road performance.

An available locking rear differential enhances control in extreme off-road conditions and is selectable in any low-range terrain mode.

Geared up
Model-year 2014 also marks the world debut of Chrysler Group’s nine-speed automatic transmission.

The advanced-technology gearbox enables aggressive launches, smooth power delivery at highway speeds and greater fuel efficiency than a six-speed automatic transmission. Its ratios are:

1st – 4.71
2nd – 2.84
3rd – 1.91
4th – 1.38
5th – 1.00
6th – 0.81
7th – 0.70
8th – 0.58
9th – 0.48

The wide ratio spread delivers outstanding low-end performance while small gear-ratio steps contribute to smooth transitions. Four overdrive ratios benefit highway fuel economy and reduce overall noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels.

The all-new, fully electronic nine-speed automatic features on-the-fly shift map changing with manual-shifting capability via Electronic Range Select. More than 40 shift maps correspond to specific conditions to optimize shift quality and shift points for improved fuel economy, performance and drivability.

To determine the appropriate shift mode, the sophisticated software accounts for variables such as engine torque gradients, kick-down events, longitudinal and lateral acceleration and grade changes. For improved driving comfort and refinement, additional parameters integrated into the transmission control strategy include: temperature, speed and electronic stability control. The result is automatic shifting attuned to the performance requirements of almost any driving situation.

Internally the transmission has four gear sets and six shift elements – multi-disc clutches, dog clutches and brakes. Only two friction-plate clutches are open in every gear, minimizing power loss.

Other new transmissions are the AS66RC six-speed automatic featured in 2014 Ram chassis cab models, and the M40 six-speed automated manual in the all-new Ram ProMaster full-size commercial van.

Sourced from Aisin, the AS66RC allows for optional 45HP and 250 lb.-ft. left- or right-side PTO. Paired with the HEMI®, efficiency is improved with Fuel Saver cylinder deactivation operation while in PTO mode.

The new M40 automated manual is mated to the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel I-4 in the ProMaster. The unique gearbox delivers the efficiency of a manual transmission with the functionality of an automatic.
At its core, it is a manual, but gearshifts and clutch functions are accomplished with an electro-hydraulic actuation system.

However, the driver can opt for manual shift-lever inputs when desired. But the driver needn’t do all the work. Shift logic is adjusted according to grade steepness so the gearbox responds intuitively to driving conditions.

New Engines Empower
Chrysler Group’s expanding product lineup demands new engines. So powertrain engineers delivered four new ones – or is it five?

6.4-liter HEMI® V-8
The all-new 6.4-liter HEMI® V-8 is actually two engines. Chrysler Group is producing one version for Ram HD pickups and another for Ram Chassis Cab models.

Each is optimized for its respective duty cycle. Both are expected to provide Ram with best-in-class bragging rights among gasoline-powered competitors.

The new 16-valve engine will make 410 horsepower (306kW) at 5,600 rpm while generating peak torque of 429 lb.-ft. (582 Nm) at 4,000 rpm.

The legendary HEMI architecture provides the foundation of the 90-degree V-8. But its advanced technology is decidedly forward-looking.

Cooled exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) delivers greater efficiency and elevated refinement. These attributes are manifested in reduced pumping losses and lower emissions. Pumping losses are further reduced by variable-valve timing (VVT).

Efficiency is a hallmark of the new 6.4-liter HEMI V-8, starting with Chrysler Group’s celebrated Fuel Saver cylinder-deactivation technology. When conditions allow, as in highway cruising, the system seamlessly shuts down four cylinders to conserve fuel.

Upgraded valve-seat material, aluminum cylinder heads, a forged-steel crankshaft and a cast-iron block contribute to durability.

Computational fluid dynamic simulations were employed to optimize the cooling circuit in the block, heads and water pump. Other features that mitigate heat include a robust/high-volume oil cooler, oil jets for piston cooling and – in the HD pickup application – a stainless-steel exhaust manifold and sodium-filled exhaust valves.

3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6
The new 3.0-liter 24-valve, dual-overhead-cam (DOHC) EcoDiesel debuts in the 2014 Jeep® Grand Cherokee and 2014 Ram 1500. It is a turbocharged 60-degree V-6 that generates 240 horsepower at 3,600 rpm and makes torque like a V-8 – 420 lb.-ft. at 2,000 rpm – without V-8 fuel consumption.

The new turbo diesel is designed and produced by VM Motori, a Chrysler Group diesel engine supplier since 1992.

The engine is shouldered by a bedplate and cylinder block of Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI), which is engineered to deliver higher strength. This enhances durability and reduces noise, vibration and harshness – a focus of many EcoDiesel design features, such as its structural aluminum oil pan.

The EcoDiesel’s 60-degree cylinder-bank angle and 1-2-3-4-5-6 firing order are optimized to manage inertia and firing loads, eliminating the need for a balance shaft.

Durability is further ensured by the EcoDiesel’s forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods – which provide additional NVH benefits – and its aluminum alloy pistons. These pistons, which benefit from cooling oil jets, reduce reciprocating mass inside the engine for enhanced efficiency and performance feel.

The EcoDiesel V-6 features Fiat’s innovative MultiJet II common-rail fuel-injection system. High-dispersion nozzles enable fuel-injection events that occur with greater precision up to eight times per cylinder cycle.

The interval between two consecutive injections also is better modulated to mitigate noise and benefit fuel consumption and emissions reduction. This is known as Injection Rate Shaping.

The new EcoDiesel V-6 achieves 50-state emissions compliance. A key enabler is the engine’s cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system, which is controlled by an electric valve instead of the conventional pneumatic variety.

A state-of-the-art Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system also reduces emissions. It incorporates a unique Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) system that, unlike competitive systems, alerts the driver to low DEF levels while also allowing the engine to maintain full power.

Other features include an insulated DEF tank with heated lines mitigates the effects of cold-weather operation and an exhaust-system strategy that reduces soot output while also improving fuel economy and meeting emissions standards

The DEF tank holds eight gallons of fluid. Duty cycle determines refills, but the average interval is about 10,000 miles. DEF is commonly available fuel stations and is also offered by Mopar, Chrysler Group’s dealer network and Cummins dealers and distributors.

The standard engine oil cooler, when the EcoDiesel is used with 5W30 synthetic oil, contributes to a 10,000-mile oil-change interval. The use of B-20 biodiesel is validated and approved for the new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel.

3.2-liter Pentastar V-6
The new 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 bows in the all-new 2014 Jeep® Cherokee. It carries over all the design features that make smooth power delivery one of the most captivating traits of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, named one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines three years running.

A 60-degree, deep-skirt, die-cast-aluminum cylinder block with six-bolt main caps afford optimal stiffness for mitigation of NVH. Also contributing to NVH reduction are:

  • A structural windage tray to complement block stiffness
  • A structural aluminum oil pan
  • Direct-mounted alternator and A/C compressor that increases stiffness
  • Select-fit pistons with polymer-graphite-coated piston skirts
  • “Silent chain” timing drive with inverted teeth for minimal sprocket NVH
  • Contoured composite cylinder-head covers
  • Glass-reinforced nylon composite intake manifold
Further enhancing the driving experience is the specially designed intake manifold, which also featuers low-rumble tuning.

The Jeep Cherokee’s V-6 engine boasts forged-steel connecting rods and piston-squirter jets, and its cam drive and valve-train components require no scheduled maintenance.

The new 3.2-liter Pentastar V-6 engine was subjected to 3.3 million customer-equivalent miles prior to production.

3.0-liter EcoDiesel I-4
The 2014 Ram ProMaster full-size commercial van marks the North American introduction of the potent 174-horsepower 3.0-liter inline 4-cylinder EcoDiesel engine that generates peak torque of 295 lb.-ft. at just 1,400 rpm.

Designed by Fiat, which employs the engine in numerous applications including Class 2, 3 and 4 commercial vehicles, the 16-valve, dual-overhead cam I-4 has been adapted for the North American market with a wide range of modifications that enable regulatory compliance, while also enhancing performance.

A new common-rail fuel-delivery system managed by the engine control unit (ECU) allows for variable timing and duration of multiple fuel-injection events. The combined effect of the extreme injection pressure and optimized injection strategy mitigates emissions, improves fuel economy and offers significant reduction in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

Further refinement comes from a host of design features, such as:
  • Hydraulic tappets and roller-finger followers for valve-lash mitigation and friction reduction
  • Cast-iron engine block stiffened by bed-plate construction
  • Lightweight alloy pistons
  • Dual-mass flywheel
  • High-efficiency exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) cooler (which also benefits emissions compliance)
Also new for North America is a quick-response variable-geometry turbocharger that delivers higher boost at low engine speeds. The result is improved driving satisfaction that comes from superior throttle response.

The engine’s block has been modified to accommodate a heater, which is standard equipment in Canada and optional in the U.S. The block heater improves cold starts at temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees, the same threshold as the transmission heater on the economical M40 automated manual gearbox that is exclusive to the turbo diesel.

To comply with emissions standards, the engine combines the benefits of a new EGR module with a highly efficient after-treatment system.

The urea diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is integrated with heated lines. The five-gallon DEF tank promises nearly 4,000 miles of service. Low-level warnings alert the driver to replenish the supply via a filler neck conveniently adjacent to the optional locking fuel cap.

Reduced total ownership cost is a primary objective of the engine’s design. Key components from the camshaft chain drive to power-steering pump to the high-pressure fuel pump with automatic tensioner (which also benefits NVH) are designed for long life.

Similarly, thoughtful innovations such as wear-resistant cylinder liners, oil-cooled pistons and electronic engine-control units for continuous diagnosis and monitoring are specifically designed to ensure durability.

Scott County, MN Launches Major Initiative to Boost Fleet Efficiency Using Vehicle Sharing, Automation & Key Management

CHANTILLY, VA, June 28, 2013 -- Scott County Minnesota's fleet has launched a major initiative aimed at slashing costs and improving fleet management and vehicle utilization. They will use FleetCommander fleet and motor pool software to accomplish their objectives. The announcement was made today by FleetCommander creator Agile Access Control, Inc. (Agile.)
Scott County Minnesota
Scott County, Minnesota launches major initiative aimed at slashing fleet costs and personally owned vehicle mileage reimbursement costs.

The County's goals include reducing personally-owned vehicle (POV) mileage reimbursement by 65%, streamlining their vehicle reservation processes, sharing vehicles, communicating and enforcing policies, and managing keys without the need to hire additional staff. In addition, Scott County's long-term plan is to roll out the technology to other county organizations with the goal of sharing assets across many different agencies.

According to Troy Beam of Scott County, a top priority of initiating fleet automation tools is to slash POV mileage reimbursement, which he estimates now costs the county upwards of $350,000. According to an analysis of fleet efficiency, Scott County expects to be able to cut mileage reimbursement via the FleetCommander online vehicle reservation process. "Going to an all-online vehicle reservation process will require drivers to check for the availability of a fleet vehicle first. If there is not a vehicle available, drivers will be allowed to use their own vehicle. This will enable the county to cut way back on POV mileage reimbursement." Commenting on the county's expected return on investment by implementing FleetCommander technologies, Beam says: "We could buy FleetCommander and a whole fleet of vehicles for what we are spending on POV mileage reimbursement." Beam points out that rising fuel costs drive up the state rate for POV reimbursement. Switching to the automated reservation system will help keep those costs down.

Key management has also been a challenge for Scott County. "It has been difficult to keep track of keys without hiring additional personnel. The FleetCommander system will do that for us, and we don't need to bring in more people." Scott County will utilize the FleetCommander automated key control system in three locations. Keys will be locked in place in a secure metal cabinet that communicates with the FleetCommander reservation system. After vehicle requests are made online, drivers log in to the FleetCommander kiosk near the keybox, check out their key, which will automatically unlock. All other keys remain secure and locked in place. When the key is removed, the dispatch-out time is automatically recorded in FleetCommander. "We're happy to automate this process and not have to dedicate more staff to manage keys. It's much more efficient and convenient for everyone," Beam says.

FleetCommander will assist Scott County in the management of their 350 vehicles; however, automating the county fleet is just the beginning of Scott County's vehicle sharing initiative. Scott County is a member of a larger group of county government entities called SCALE (Scott County Association for Leadership and Efficiency). Organizations that comprise SCALE include cities, schools, fire departments, government agencies, and other cities and townships within Scott County and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Combined, these organizations manage more than 2,500 vehicles and other assets. The goal of SCALE is to forge new and innovative ways government entities can collaborate and share resources. Beam says their long-term goal is to use FleetCommander to enable the cross-agency sharing of vehicles and assets such as bobcats, front-end loaders, graders, and other vehicles. "If an agency needs a bobcat, for instance, they can log in to FleetCommander and see that another organization has one they can use. They can check it out through the online reservation system and not have to buy it. The savings potential for the County is huge," he says.

About Agile Access Control, Inc.

FleetCommander creator Agile Access Control, Inc. is a technology company headquartered in Chantilly, Va., which serves fleet and motor pool managers in the university, government, utility, and commercial sectors. Agile's FleetCommander software is a powerful, highly configurable, web-based application that streamlines the use of vehicles through easy-to-use software, and presents real-time data in the form of intuitive dashboards, graphs, gauges, online forms, and a wide variety of reports. The suite of FleetCommander technology tools also includes Agile FleetShare™, car sharing technology that offers keys-in-the-car access to geographically dispersed vehicles with a scanned ID card at the windshield; unstaffed check-in at kiosks, secure key control and key boxes; in-vehicle utilization and diagnostic devices; GPS solutions, and much more - all tied into the FleetCommander fleet and motor pool software. Resulting in lower vehicle and personnel costs and higher customer satisfaction, FleetCommander can be used as a stand-alone, customized fleet management system or integrated with an organization's existing fleet systems. For more information, contact Agile Access Control, Inc. at 408-213-9555 x1 or or visit

Thursday, June 27, 2013

GMC Hosts Trailering Academy Featuring the 2014 Sierra

RV'ing is a great way to see the country, but it’s not easy and preparation and practice make for a safe and exciting adventure.  In a fun, fast-paced, four-part video series James Bell, GM’s Head of Consumer Affairs shares some important information you need to know before you hitch your wagon.

In the first video James attends a GMC Trailering academy and learns how easy it is to maneuver a large Airstream trailer when towing with the all new 2014 GMC Sierra. Lead Trailering Engineer for GMC, Robert Krouse, puts James through his paces on a challenging course laid out on the tarmac of Camarillo Airport near Los Angeles.

James’ first task was to execute full throttle acceleration.  Then perform a double lane change, veering right one full lane and then immediately returning to the left followed immediately by a panic brake application to full stop. Those who have tried this with the wrong tow vehicle, perhaps to avoid an object in the road, will recall the sway and the feeling of an impending loss of control. However, thanks to the 2014 Sierra’s anti-sway control, the refinement of its integrated trailer brakes and of course James’ stellar driving skills, the maneuvers are performed without mishap or breaking a sweat.

The next hair raising anti-sway demonstration was a constant radius turn while maintaining a steady speed of 20mph. While this could be unnerving, even dangerous with a tow vehicle that does not meet specifications, according to James, performing this maneuver with the 2014 Sierra was "smooth as glass!"

Check out the entire video for all the action and hear what James and Robert have to say about the full towing capabilities of this amazing full-size pick-up truck. Plus check back soon for the next installment in the series when James will give us a sneak peek inside a decadent Airstream-To-Go trailer and tell us all about Glamping.

Stay Tuned for Upcoming videos
Glamping - Coming June 19
Glamping – short for glamorous camping - rethinks the outdoor experience and takes it from tents and tin cups to luxury trucks and travel trailers.

Brakes and Sway - Coming June 26
With the wrong tow vehicle and an inexperience RV’er, “sway” and braking can be challenging.  In this video James will address some of the Sierra features that make towing a breeze.

On The Road Again – Coming July 3
Towing with the right vehicle can make or break your next RV excursion.  Learn why the GMC Sierra is ideal for towing something like an Airstream


Las Vegas, NV – Natural Gas Vehicle Institute (NGVi) delivered a one-day training class on CNG codes and standards last week to more than 40 fire marshals, municipal code officials, airport authorities and others.  The event was hosted by Black Hills Energy as a response to the demand for expert information on natural gas vehicles and fueling.

The one-day CNG Codes & Standards Training was developed based on NGVi’s award-winning curriculum and has been customized specifically for the informational needs of the fire marshal and code official audience.  The training covers the codes for three primary areas including:
  • CNG Fueling Stations
  • Vehicular CNG Cylinders and the Onboard Fuel Systems
  • Vehicle Maintenance Facility Standards
Natural gas as a transportation fuel is extremely safe, but its unique properties require adherence to a number of codes and rigorous safety standards that significantly differ from safety requirements addressing heavier-than-air, liquid fuels like diesel and gasoline. Specific regulations apply to high-pressure CNG fuel systems, to the design, operation, and maintenance of CNG fueling stations, and also to vehicle maintenance facilities and parking structures where natural-gas-powered vehicles are repaired, maintained or stored.
“Fire marshals are likely to be familiar with the fire codes, but it is crucial that they understand the practical differences between working with natural gas and liquid fuels and become aware of national codes and regulations governing natural gas vehicles, CNG fueling stations, and vehicle maintenance facilities,” said Leo Thomason, Executive Director and lead instructor at NGVi. “The attendees truly appreciated the focused training we provided on these subjects.” 
“The training was an excellent opportunity to learn—the information was very new to us here in Nebraska,” said Clark Conklin, Chief Deputy, Fuels Safety Nebraska State Fire Marshal. “These are…good resources for us regulators. Thank you for giving us the scoop on this issue,” he added.
NGVi offers the CNG Codes & Standards course through hosting organizations or companies interested in helping fire marshals and code officials understand more about natural gas as a transportation fuel.  “Gas utility companies, like Black Hills Energy, are really forward-thinking in hosting this kind of training for code officials so that barriers to market penetration for NGVs can be removed,” noted Thomason. 

IBTTA Statement on Confirmation of Anthony Foxx

WASHINGTON – After the U.S. Senate’s vote to confirm Anthony Foxx as the next Secretary of the U. S. Department of Transportation, Patrick D. Jones, Executive Director and CEO of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), the worldwide association representing toll facility owners and operators and the businesses that serve them, released the following statement:

“IBTTA congratulates Secretary Foxx on his confirmation today as the next U. S. Secretary of Transportation. Secretary Foxx’s leadership comes at a time when our nation confronts unprecedented transportation infrastructure funding challenges. We look forward to working with Secretary Foxx to overcome the transportation funding crisis, to improve transportation safety, to use innovative technologies to enhance the capacity of our road network and to rebuild our transportation infrastructure as an engine for jobs and economic growth.”

“We also extend our gratitude to outgoing Secretary Ray Lahood for his outstanding record of public service, his leadership of the department and his steadfast commitment to advance highway safety through his Distracted Driving Initiative. We agree with Secretary Lahood that we as a nation must explore alternative funding options, including tolling, to address our nation’s transportation infrastructure challenges. IBTTA wishes him well in the next chapter of his life.” 

In an interview earlier this week with the Detroit News, outgoing Transportation Secretary Lahood acknowledged the need for Congress to look toward new revenue funding options to fix America's crumbling infrastructure. In the story, Lahood is quoted as saying, "Eventually people in the communities are going to persuade their members of Congress: We’re willing to raise taxes, we’re willing to pay tolls, we’re willing to go to vehicle miles traveled because we want better roads, better bridges."