By on December 7, 2011

Jack Baruth showed you the Alfa-based new Dodge Dart – but what does it mean? For Sergio Marchionne, the little car means a lot. It means the final five percent of Chrysler, to be exact.

Marchionne told Reuters [via Automotive News [sub]] that Fiat could soon receive its final 5 percent of the Chrysler stock, which would give Fiat 58.5 percent. The rest would be held by the UAW’s retiree health care trust.

A vehicle that is built in the United States and that has achieved an unadjusted combined fuel economy rating of at least 40 mpg (closer to 30 MPG combined on the window sticker) is the final milestone worth those 5 percent. Even if the vehicle making that number is a special edition (think Cruze Eco).

As Jack’s piece mentioned, the Dart will come with a number of engine options. One of these is the 1.4-liter turbocharged FIRE engine that also powers versions of the subcompact Fiat 500. A new 9-speed transmission coming from ZF Group could increase the Dart’s fuel efficiency by an additional 10 percent to 16 percent over a similar 6-speed dual clutch transmission.

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

51 Comments on “What’s A Dodge Dart Worth? 5 Percent Of Chrysler...”


  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I was just getting used to the idea that some cars have 8 speed transmissions. I’m not an engineer, but aren’t we reaching a point of diminshing returns with adding extra ratios? Wouldn’t 9 gears mean this thing is just above idle on the freeway, necessitating a downshift for even a minor hill?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      but aren’t we reaching a point of diminshing returns with adding extra ratios?

      Seems like that would be a no:

      “A new 9-speed transmission coming from ZF Group could increase the Dart’s fuel efficiency by an additional 10 percent to 16 percent over a similar 6-speed dual clutch transmission.”

    • 0 avatar
      MarkP

      Do they necessarily change the top gearing (much) with many ratios, or do they just divide the same range more finely? Don’t people already complain about gear hunting in an 8-speed?

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I know my mom’s car is a complete moron. It will downshift, on a flat, maintaining speed, if you so much as twitch your foot. Then it won’t go back into high gear for about 1/2 mile. She has a regular 4-speed.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      So the new Dart will have as many forward gears as the Civic and Corolla *combined*!

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      I’m already used to nine speed rears on my racing bicycles (and the standard is up to 11, now). Actually, that works very well. I’m shifting about three times as much as I do on my vintage 5 (classic 10-speed) and 6 speed setups, but with the brifters keeping the shifting right at my fingertips without having to move my body in the slightest, it’s very convenient. And yes, it’s nice to be able to do minor adjustments as the terrain changes (even if its ever so slightly), and I can keep my cadence steady.

      If anything, I’d expect these 8 and 9 (and lord knows what’s coming) automatics to work in the same way. If well designed and executed, the transmission is going to shift constantly according to conditions, and hopefully the driver won’t notice.

      • 0 avatar

        And it pisses me off no end that I have to buy NOS or used parts to fix a 15 year old bike. It’s a pain in the ass to have to track down 8 speed Campy hubs. The alternative is getting new derailleurs and shifters. If I do that, hell, I might as well go to a triple chainring and make my old knees happier.

        I think 11 is too much. It also creates a big issue with rear wheel durability since they have to dish the wheel so much to make room for the extra cogs. My bike has Ergo shifters so shifting isn’t a problem, and there aren’t many hills around here, but I generally find myself riding in the same three or four ratios 90% of the time.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        I’m planning to make the switch to a Rohloff hub after giving up on derailleurs. For all the precision machining and electronica thrown at it, derailleurs are purely Victorian era technology straight from the bad old days of the Industrial Revolution with their exposed gears, chains and flywheels. An enclosed planetary transmission set may only move me up to the Edwardian age, but I’m prepared to take that risk. I’d love to make a really clean break by going with the Gates belt drive system, but I don’t think the drive cogs are compatible with either the Rohloff hub or Hammerschmidt crank.

        And 9 speeds for the transmission? Really? Are their engines’ torque curves that bad?

      • 0 avatar
        GS650G

        I have quite a hoard of old bicycle parts, enough freewheels to last a lifetime, shifters from the 80’s and 90’s and my prize possession is a set of unused American Classic hubs from the 80’s

        I even have a brand new Regina BX freewheel in the box. I love the old retro bike stuff, it lasts forever.

      • 0 avatar

        Derailleurs are more like 20th century technology than Victorian. They started using parallelogram derailleurs in the Tour in the late 1930s.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Felis, how much is it that the torque curves require that many speeds, and how much is it that from a marketing perspective, they need to keep on top of technology so people won’t accuse them of being lazy and outdated?

      • 0 avatar

        Well, this is amazing. I didn’t know we had a bunch of bike nuts here. I have my 1972 Peugeot, on which I cycled from Seattle to Boston lo those many years ago, which still has ’70s or early ’80s technology at the latest, with a measly 10 speeds. And I have a BikeE recumbent from 1998, which combines a 7 speed sprocket set with a 3 speed hub. I think I use no more than 10 of the ratios. I keep the hub in the highest gears so that I can keep the sprocket most of the time in the lower five gears, which have more teeth, to slow the wear on the system.

        I used to have a lot of spare equipment, but I don’t think I do anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        daviel

        Another bike snob here. I stopped at 10 speed. 11 is not for me. I have my bikes tuned in just right with 10 speed chorus. Frankly I find myself riding single speed and fixed about as much as geared. The Dart looks like a winner.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        Maymar, I’m certain the overall gear ratio count is for marketing purposes, although in the 70s and 80s most small displacement engines would exhibit very peaky torque curves – especially when tweaked by shade tree mechanics – so having those closely spaced ratios was far more important then than it is today.

        I know there’s a lot of pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” along with the all-important “whirly bits factor” for many, but these multi speed automatics are taking things too far for my tastes. With modern materials science, a good 4-5 speed automatic (or manual) transmission should be more than enough for the average automobile engine today (most of which do have broad and useful torque delivery profiles) and could be packaged to save a significant amount of space and weight over those 3 – and 4? – planetary configurations. That would compound the fuel savings and offer greater longevity through simplicity. It’s one reason I’m a fan of the series hybrid drive topology: decoupling the engine to a single-state max efficiency burn during its charge phase should work wonders for simplicity and longevity, although the charge controlling software will be the most complex aspect and most likely point of failure.

        Thanks for all the comments. I loved my Sachs-Huret Duopar derailleur with its lack of a tension spring and set-screw in the rear of the hangar bolt, but after index shifting took over, I’ve struggled to deal with tolerances which now seem to require ten-thousandths in adjustment precision in order to function properly. And with Sturmey-Archer a distant memory, the explosion of wide range hub changers in the past 2 decades has finally provided a challenge to open gear shifting that hasn’t been seen since S-A’s bosses failed to bring their 5 speed prototypes to market. My personal favorite bits of tech from yesteryear were Galli’s Stronglight headset (carbon fiber + needle bearings in ’85: woo!), Triple-T’s extended gooseneck (it was the only one available to accommodate my build) and CatEye’s definitive solar-recharging cycle computer (don’t be a cheapskate: SR-44s, not LR-44s please). Oh joy: it appears Gates Rubber now makes Rohloff/Hammerschmidt compatible drive belt systems. Now I just need to find out if they can make 2.8-3 meter belts on special order.

        Now that I think on it, Rholoff manages 14 well spaced gear ratios with just 3 planetaries, so the automobile transmission engineers should consider that gauntlet well and truly thrown down for them.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        I really wish they’d stop upping the gear counts on bikes, it’s getting ridiculous. And at my body weight, the chains are becoming too fragile.

        If I hammer down going up a steep hill on an empty bike I’m guaranteed to snap a chain in about 5 seconds.

        9 speeds on the rear derailleur is enough, I’d prefer 8 just for the stronger chain.

        I don’t think the rohloff hubs have enough ratios for me when I’m going up some steep hills. I haven’t ridden one though so I don’t know.

        As for keeping old bikes working, all I can say is that cycling is a strange business with classics like Brooks saddles that never change and on the other hand campy and shimano gear changing so fast that you can’t fix stuff that is 10 years old.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        1975 Schwinn Traveler. 10 speeds. Period. Only used 3 or 4 of them most of the time until it was stolen in 1979. Bought a Traveler III. Same bike. Got rid of it 7 years ago – I walk now with the dog and at work – and haven’t ridden a bike since I lost (legal) vision in my left eye in 2003. Wonder how I’ll ride if I get the chance? I’ll have to try it sometime.

    • 0 avatar
      likenissan

      Does anyone knows what is the advantage of a 9-speed transmission over having a CVT?

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        Ronnie-
        I am under the impression that 9-11 speed cassettes are all essentially the same width. Most wheels that accepted the 9 or 10 speed cassettes accept the 11 speed cassettes, so there is actually no difference to the amount of dish in the wheel. The difference is that the cogs themselves (and the chain) are narrower. the durability issues are in the cassette and chain, not the wheels. I could be wrong, but when I was working in a bike shop I never saw any wheels specifically redesigned for the 11 speed cassettes.

        (I too think it’s overkill, just questioning the details of it.)

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    What was 5% of Chrysler worth when they cut the deal? A negative billion dollars? Let’s say it was worth $500 million due to the liabilities discharged and the new capital added by Uncle Sam and his Canadian pal. The old Chrysler didn’t have a competitive small car even close to ready. I’d say the small car was worth 5% of Chrysler. They have to get rid of that Alfa grill though, it reminds me of Spewey from “Get a Life”.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      Agreed. As a Canadian taxpayer I have no problem with Fiat getting another 5% equity for hitting this milestone.

      Sergio and Fiat took something that had very little value, and which nobody else wanted, and through hard work and risk taking made something that now looks like it might succeed.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Yeah…except the Dart looks nothing like the Giulietta pictured…

    And at what point does a multi-multi-multi geared tranny simply become nothing more than a CVT?

    Perhaps having a competitive compact car in the segment will have been worth the 5%…time will tell.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    What is an “unadjusted” fuel economy rating of 40mpg? CAFE rather than EPA? And what about city vs. combined vs. highway?

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      I think they mean 40mpg combined (I was wrong; I thought highway, but even Chrysler could beat that with a Hemi and tuning), and it’s usually as a rule of thumb reduced by about 20% — so 32mpg combined — from unadjusted to adjusted to get it more within the realm of real driving conditions. They came up with all these funny adjustment formulas in the Bush years.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/fiats-40-mpg-fiction/

      EDIT: More to your question, it’s all EPA — CAFE is just the size/footprint-weighted average of the EPA numbers across all of the annual sales.
      EDIT 2: Combined per the memo in the link above.

      • 0 avatar
        carlisimo

        The EPA changed how it measures mileage in 2008 – did that change replace the 20% adjustment?

      • 0 avatar
        MrGreenMan

        It is my understanding that they are complimentary and that they still do the percentage adjustment, but the loop has been changed to better simulate the real world.

        Two big things they added to the driving loop in 2008:
        – They now test the effect of air conditioning. They had heretofore operated with HVAC off in the test loop.
        – They now test higher speeds. The old highway loop was 55 mph, since that was the national speed limit; it’s higher but I can’t find the specific peak number.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    new 9-speed transmission coming from ZF Group could increase the Dart’s fuel efficiency by an additional 10 percent to 16 percent over a similar 6-speed dual clutch transmission.

    I would have to see this before believing, thats a big jump.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      They say this but really cant compare it to anything considering that they dont have a small care right now. Nor do they have anything with a dual clutch offered in the USA. My guess is that it equals about two-three miles per gallon.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      They say this but really cant compare it to anything considering that they dont have a small car right now. Nor do they have anything with a dual clutch offered in the USA. My guess is that it equals about two-three miles per gallon.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Wouldnt you save almost as much gas with a well setup 5 spd manual ? Due to less weight and friction loss? A 9 spd auto must have a jillion little parts and weigh a ton. OR.. it could weigh 4 lbs but only last 50k miles and cost a bazillion $ to fix. Talk about fixing a non- existent problem until it becomes one.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Wouldnt you save almost as much gas with a well setup 5 spd manual ? Due to less weight and friction loss?

      Your basing your estimate on info that was true 20 years ago. Automatic transmission technology has moved a head pretty far.

      • 0 avatar
        Andy D

        Regardless, I can fix the 4HP22 Getrag in my drive way for 300$ worth of parts. Should I have to, Ive run several of then past 250k and they just require routine care. In a 1986 BMW 528e weighing 3200 lbs, I could squeeze out a respectable 34 MPG on the Highway. I have always considered the 528e as an uber-Dart too.

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        “I have always considered the 528e as an uber-Dart too.”

        Because it is RWD, and has a well designed I6?

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      With an automatic based on the conventional “planetary gear set” design, you line up multiple gear sets sequentially where the first gear set feeds the second gear set (and on to a third gear set if necessary). Each set gives you 2 forward ratios and 1 reverse ratio. If you line up three gear sets you can use 2 * 2 * 2 forward ratios in combination to have up to 8 forward gears.

      But there’s more! You can even use two gear sets in the reverse direction and since two wrongs make a right you would end up going forward for an additional ratio. That’s how you can get to a 5 speed with just two gear sets (2*2 using the forward operation, and run both gear sets in reverse for an additional 1).

      To get to a six speed, you need 3 gear sets. But once you have 3 gear sets you can get 8 conventional combinations + 3 different reverse gear set pairs (because you only choose 2 of the three gear sets to run backwards). But when you use a reverse pair, the 3rd gear set still has two forward combinations to choose from, so those 3 reverse pairs yield 3*2 more combinations. So you could theoretically get to 8+6 = 14 forward gears out of 3 planetary gear sets. If you actually wanted to go in reverse, you would operate 1 gear set in reverse and could get 4 reverse ratios out of the remaining gear sets; you can operate any one of the gear sets in reverse, so there are 3*4 reverse combinations available. Actually, you can also operate all 3 gear sets in reverse to get another ratio. So, that would be a transmission offering 14 forward gears and 13 reverse!

      Back in the old days, making all the gear sets act in unison was difficult. Today, with electronic controls on everything, the sky is the limit. There are still two issues… with so many combinations, you might have some ratios that are the same (like when the gears in the low range of a transmission overlap with the ones in a high range so your 10-speed bicycle really only has 7 or 8 unique gearings). Another issue is that switching between forward and reverse operation of a pair of gear sets is likely to be more jarring on the transmission, since more rotational momentum needs to be overcome during the shift.

      These two links are great:
      http://www.howstuffworks.com/transport/engines-equipment/gear7.htm
      http://www.howstuffworks.com/automatic-transmission.htm

      • 0 avatar
        PenguinBoy

        Good post!

        So basically three old school Laycock Overdrives bolted together, controlled by a computer.

        As long as they don’t leak oil, it’s all good…

      • 0 avatar
        Brian P

        I don’t know about the internals on the ZF 9-speed, but their 8-speed transmission meant for RWD applications has 4 planetary gear sets and only 5 internal clutches. It’s all in the combination of which clutches are applied or released. With the 8-speed, 3 clutches are engaged and 2 are disengaged at any given time (aside from neutral). Turns out that the number of different combinations of ways that you can have 3 engaged and 2 disengaged is 10. They’re using almost all of them … 8 forward, 1 reverse, only 1 combination is not used.

        Adding just one extra clutch and/or one extra gear set tremendously multiplies the number of possibilities. Maximizing the number of them that are useful … is what they pay engineers for!

        The answer to “why not just use a CVT” is that a CVT has not been developed that has as low frictional losses as a gear-to-gear transmission. Durability is a question mark, too. There are more auto manufacturers that have tried CVT and given up, than who currently use it …

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Audi offers the “multitronic” CVT on the A6 in Europe. It handles the 300 lb-ft torque output of the 3.0 TDI engine, and gets similar fuel economy as the dual-clutch S Tronic gearboxes.

  • avatar
    George B

    I don’t know. The whole point of markets is buyers and sellers figure out a mutually agreeable price. Absent government intervention Chrysler would have been parted out to other manufacturers during liquidation in a very bad market. How many car buyers have been waiting for an affordable Italian car, but with Ram styling elements and a Dodge brand? Hope it’s bigger than the pent up demand for Fiats.

    • 0 avatar
      SlowMyke

      It is. I guarantee the average younger American is just figuring out that Fiat even exists, let alone sells cars in the States. People are aware of Dodge, and many people that are going to buy this won’t even know it’s a Fiat/Alfa underneath.

    • 0 avatar
      pdieten

      The problem I have with people who put such abiding faith in markets is that it’s not clear to me that they understand how irrational humans are, and how effectively that irrationality and panic can destroy viable businesses for no really good reason. A post-bankruptcy, Fiat-owned Chrysler is a viable business with interesting product. Destroying the company in a financial panic would not have served anybody, it would have just created a lot of unnecessary and messy dislocations.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Give up the Dodge Dart. Just import an Alfa. I had a Guilietta Sprint as an undergrad. When it ran, it was wonderful. Of course, being Italian, it didn’t run much…but it was still fun. If Fiat can manage to make those darned things even halfway reliable, I’d think about getting another one.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    there aren’t many hills around here, but I generally find myself riding in the same three or four ratios 90% of the time.

    I agree, i only use a couple of gears with my bike when I had 21 spd.

    Now I have 12 spd, but always stay on the small sprocket in front and goes back & forth on the rear.
    My largest cog in rear is 28 I think thats the largest, wish I can have it bigger, but next bigger size I need a long cage derailer in the back.
    So I simply dont ride around much of incline anymore!

    8-9 spd, u can count on more gear hunting. Or else the tranny is not doing its job.
    Forgotten this is a dual clutch system? Only way to have a seamless shift is to shift real slow. In an auto slush box, with a Torque converter.
    Talked to a RR Mechanic, the stock tranny in the RR Shadows were a bit more abrupt, so some of these tranny mechanic got wise and put in Cadillac type of modulator as to allow a more gradual shift not as harsh, but ended up burn out the tranny prematurely as RR Shadows are heavier than most Caddies.

  • avatar
    potatobreath

    I’m trying to imagine Autostick or manual shift mode on one of these 9-speed boxes. Lock out three ratios to keep it manageable?

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    So the new Dart will be based on the Alfa and built in America. What’s to keep Sergio from building actual Alfas in the same factory to supply Fiat dealers who can’t sell the 500?

    There’s talk of Fiat leaving Italy, and if Alfas could be built in America and shipped to Europe, wouldn’t the dollar/euro exchange mean bigger margins? I’m sure someone will tell me all about the technical difficulties of building Euro- and American- spec cars on the same line, etc. But switching from fractious Italian unions to the reeling UAW, and taking advantage of the exchange rate have got to make the effort worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      It’s not as crazy as you might think.

      The Belvidere plant that will be building the Dart is set up to allow loading automobiles directly onto train cars at the factory. The satellite images on Google show that it can load 12 trains at a time with two high-capacity rail sidings within a mile or two for storage capacity. The rail line is connected directly with the Chicago metro region rail system – it has a direct connection to a rail yard for every single major railroad in North America within 50-75 miles of the factory.

      A car loaded onto a train at that factory is no more than 4 days from arriving at ANY deep water port in the US and Canada. That is some amazing flexibility to wring maximum margin out of each car. Rates too high on CSX to Baltimore? Let’s see what Canadian National is offering to New Orleans. Hey, why not play them both off of Canadian Pacific to the Port of Montreal and Norfolk Southern to Savannah? The list goes on… They could change carriers by the week to match up with empty ships heading back to Europe. And if they ever wanted to export to Asia, there are just as many options heading west.

      If the labor costs are ok, it’s a great location for a factory.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I see that no one has asked the obvious: Do any of you think of what it costs to fix these transmissions when they go bad? Yes, the sky may be the limit as to number of gears, but try researching how much parts are to fix, and that includes CVTs. Hope the warranty is good!

    From what my friend in Missouri has found out – and he works on transmissions and has worked for AAMCO in the distant past, he’s longing for the days of Powerglides, Turbohydramatics and Torqueflites!

    Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I’ve raised a legitimate point.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    The Dart will debut with a 6-speed dual clutch. I wonder if that box will have any Ferrari DNA in it…


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States