With the Hellcat SRT version of a Grand Cherokee on the horizon, just how does Chrysler-Jeep make all this happen? What Secret Lair develops these high horsepower vehicles, and what exactly do they do?
Hellcat SRT & Jeep Testing, Building, and More Testing
Hot Rod recently touched on the subject, visiting the Chrysler Tech Center where some of the hottest cars and trucks come from. Not to mention the growling beast engines that make them go. The building itself covers more than 5.4 million sqft. The only building that's larger under one roof is the Pentagon, according to Chrysler. It was started in 1986, and opened in 1991. This facility can do nearly anything you can think of to build a machine or an engine. Tools, machine shops, dyno rooms, fabrication areas, CNC machines, even a wind tunnel (Chrysler built a wind tunnel as early as 1922 - with the help of a young designer, Orville Wright - as in the Wright brothers of flying fame). Much of the site is for testing. You think you test your Jeep trailing out in no man's land? Chrysler beat you to it. Hundreds of hours of testing. Building engines, then subjecting them to sub-zero temperatures to scorching heat, and then tearing the engines down. Then assembling them again, and testing them even more. Brutal testing. Imagine taking an entire Jeep and subjecting it to extreme temperatures. Do parts break at -40 F ? Do they fall off? Does the engine run? How do the door seals hold up? Can the wipers work? What abut the chemicals in the engine? What about water in wet conditions? Can it find it's way inside? When you start building 700+ engines and fitting them into Grand Cherokees
, among other hot rod vehicles, you need to test that engine within an inch of it's life. Extreme measures are taken to work the engine hard, then tear it apart, see what happened inside, then assemble it for some more abuse. Which cam works best for street driving and the highway? What about torque? Can the oil pump take the punishment? This is where the testing goes on to find out what might break, and how to design a better part, way before it's sold on the showroom floor. Then of course there's all the science stuff, for the emissions. Is all the fuel burning? Is any carbon making it's way out the tail pipe? How can that be reduced without effecting power? Chrysler-Jeep puts everything they have into testing a vehicle and it's parts before you get the final product. Did you know? When the engines are running on the dyno, they are actually making electricity as well. Each dyno has been fitted with a generator, so as long as the engine is running, why not create some free power? Chrysler gets about 15% of their electrical power from the dynos. And if there's an emergency, that power can be diverted to the local fire and police stations. Hows that for engineering? So when you're driving a new Hellcat powered Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
(or any Jeep), just think of all the many hours that went into it's design. It's a long way from a CAD drawing to a drive-able vehicle, and some fellow car and truck guys had a hand in making sure you get a tough Jeep from the start.