Acknowledging that a number of mistakes were made in the development and launch of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne vowed to learn from those mistakes and never repeat them.
“What we’ve learned is that we’ll never repeat it. We’re never going to take a plant down and be out of the market for over a year,” Marchionne told analysts in a conference call on Wednesday. In August of 2012, Chrysler shut down the body shop section of their Toledo assembly facility and spent a half billion dollars to prepare for Cherokee production. “We were just naked in 2013,” in the mid-sized SUV segment after production of the Jeep Liberty ended in 2012. The Liberty had been the Jeep brand’s third best seller at 75,483 units, about 5% of Chrysler’s total sales volume in 2012. (Read More…)
ZF Friedrichshafen AG and Levant Power Corp., a Woburn, Massachusetts technology company spun off from MIT, have announced what they call the first fully active suspension system that includes a regenerative function that recovers energy from the motion of the suspension. The system is branded GenShock. Active suspensions are not new, General Motors experimented with an actively suspended ZR-1 Corvette when the automaker owned Lotus, which had worked with active suspensions before the technology was banned in Formula One. Going back even farther, there were the hydropneumatic Citroens and the last true Packards’ “torsion level” suspension. With road cars the goal in using such a system would be to combine good ride with good handling, soft sometimes and stiff sometimes, depending on the driving circumstances. Early tries at developing what chassis engineers call a “high bandwidth active suspension”, capable of dealing with those varying circumstances, have run into cost, complexity and power consumption issues. The GenShock system is claimed to be affordable, simple to integrate in existing suspension designs, and not only have modest power consumption but also be able to recover energy from the suspension.
The 1941 Plymouth Special Deluxe sedan Junkyard Find that I bought from the Brain-Melting Colorado Junkyard last fall now has the body off the frame and is awaiting a Lexus SC400 suspension subframe swap. After much debate about what engine/transmission combo to use in this Hell Project (the plan is to build it to Pikes Peak International Hill Climb specs, while retaining a grimy-looking rat-roddish character), I decided to go with the GM Vortec 4200 aka LL8 L6 engine, with turbocharging added, and that meant that I’d need to find a manual transmission that can withstand at least 400 ft-lbs of torque. Since the Vortec 4200 never came with a manual transmission, and the pseudo-bolt-on Aisin-based 5-speed out of the Solstice and Colorado can’t take the sort of power I’m hoping to get (thus forcing me to go the machine-shop bellhousing-adapter/custome-flywheel route), I was looking for a Borg-Warner T-56 out of a fourth-gen GM F-body, or maybe a Tremec TKO out of a fourth-gen Mustang. Then, an ad for a ZF S6-40 6-speed showed up on Denver Craigslist, with a very reasonable asking price. (Read More…)
GM and Ford will be working together to bring 9 and 10 speed transmissions to market. Reuters reports that the two companies will jointly develop the gearboxes for both front and rear-drive applications, and expect to use them in cars, trucks and SUVs.
What do the Volvo XC60 and Lexus RX F-Sport have in common? Not much. Yet. Today’s vehicles aren’t just built on “modular” platforms, sharing parts with other vehicles from the same manufacturer, they are also “parts bin creations.” You’ll find the same power mirror switch in a Chevy, Jeep, Peugeot, Citroën, Lancia, Lincon and many more. That’s because car parts are like Lego pieces, made by a handful of car parts companies and designed to be everything for everyone. It’s cheaper for everyone to design one switch, one control module, one key fob and just alter some of the plastics and a connector to suit your new car design.
ZF’s 9-speed transmission seems to be gaining popularity with storied off-road name plates that are now marketing unibody vehicles better meant for the urban jungle. The Range Rover Evoque is the next recipient of the ZF 9-speed, which should help squeeze some more efficiency out of the Evoque’s boosted four-cylinder engine.
Wondering when the automatic gearbox arms race will end? 8 speeds? 9 speeds? Even 10 speed gearboxes have been thrown out as grist for the automotive rumor mill, but one exec apparently has the answer.