May 19, 2022

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The Car & Automotive Devotees

The Hurricane: Stellantis Launches New Engine Family To Improve Fuel Economy

7 min read
While we don’t know for sure that the big Grand Wagoneer will get Stellantis’ new Hurricane engine, it’s one of Stellantis’ largest and thirstiest vehicles, and a perfect home for the efficient new twin-turbo six-cylinder engine family. Jeep

With many automakers targeting a 50% or more market share for electric vehicles in North America by 2030, you might think that work on internal combustion engines (ICE) was dead. But a 50% share of EVs still leaves half the market for ICEs and those engines still need to get cleaner and, as everybody filling their tanks at the moment can attest, more efficient. 

With the recognition that there is still going to be a significant market for ICEs, especially in larger vehicles well into the 2030s, Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) has just announced what may well be its last major engine program. In the coming months, it will debut the Hurricane: an all-new 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine that can produce 500+ horsepower. 

Today, Stellantis’ most popular and highest-profit vehicles, like Ram pickups and burly Jeep SUVs, rely on Beefy Hemi V8s. Those hard-core Hemis provide plenty of acceleration, payload and towing capacity, but they also leave Stellantis with the lowest corporate average fuel economy of any major automaker in the U.S. In 2020, Stellantis averaged just 21.3 mpg over its entire fleet, compared to the industry average of 25.4 and 29.1 mpg for leader Honda. 

If Stellantis is going to rely on sales of those big trucks and SUVs to generate the tens of billions of dollars they plan to spend transitioning to electric without paying major fines, they’ll need much more efficient powertrains like the Hurricane. Consumers won’t mind paying less at the pump, either. 

What’s a Hurricane? 

The new engine is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, which sounds a lot like the EcoBoost engines that Ford launched in 2010. However, unlike the V6 Fords, Stellantis has chosen an inline layout. Inherently well balanced, inline-sixes are about the smoothest configuration you can build and should be lighter than competitors.  

The 3.0-liter Hurricane will be offered initially in two variants, standard and high output (HO). The standard variant will produce over 400 horsepower with over 450 pound-feet of torque while the HO bumps those numbers to over 500 horsepower and 475 pound-feet. Among other internal differences, the HO Hurricane has a slightly lower compression ratio, but higher peak turbo boost and larger charge cooler to help make that extra oomph. 

Stellantis Hurricane SO
Modern engines aren’t pretty, but they are powerful. Stellantis’ standard output (SO) 3.0-liter Hurricane promises up to 400 horsepower. Stellantis
Stellantis Hurricane HO
The HO Hurricane has a slightly lower compression ratio, 9.5:1 vs 10.4:1 on the SO but its larger turbochargers generate a higher peak boost pressure of 26 psi and 500 horsepower. Stellantis

Both engines use a deep skirt aluminum cylinder block for extra rigidity. To reduce the weight and size of the engine, Stellantis is using a technology called spray bore. First used in production on the 2008 Nissan GT-R, spray bore heats a steel alloy wire to 4,150 F creating a plasma of microscopic particles that are sprayed into the cylinder. The resulting bore coating has 10 times the wear resistance of a traditional iron liner but is much thinner and weighs far less.  

Other technologies are typical of modern engines including high-pressure, 5,075-psi direct fuel injection and roller valve followers, continuously variable displacement oil pump and variable camshaft timing. A separate cooling circuit with an electric pump is used to cool the turbochargers after the engine is shut off to ensure durability.  

Stellantis isn’t Alone on Building More Efficient ICE Engines 

The closest direct competitors to the Hurricane are Ford’s EcoBoost V6s and the new i-Force V6 in the 2022 Toyota Tundra and 2023 Sequoia.  

Ford has two families of EcoBoost V6 with the smaller Nano available in 2.7-liter and 3.0-liter variants with power ranging from 325 to 450 horsepower and over 400 pound-feet of torque. The 3.5-liter produces 400 to 600 horsepower and over 500 pound-feet. The Toyota is launching with 389 horsepower and 437 pound-feet of torque.  

The two Hurricane variants comfortably cover that spread in similar products and Stellantis hasn’t ruled out further variants in the future. Among those that will probably appear at some point are both 48-volt mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids. While a smaller displacement version is possible, it’s less likely since Stellantis already has a global 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with over 300 horsepower used in several models from Alfa Romeo and Jeep.  

2021 ram 1500 hero
The individual Stellantis brands have yet to announce which models will get the Hurricane, but the Ram 1500, the company’s best-seller and a Hemi V8 mainstay, is a sure bet. Ram

Where and when? 

The automaker isn’t yet announcing which vehicles will get the Hurricane, leaving that up to individual brands to announce. However, this engine is only intended for longitudinal installations like the larger SUVs and pickups. 

Anywhere the aging Pentastar V6 or Hemi V8 are used is a likely candidate, including the Ram 1500, Jeep Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer, Grand Cherokee and Gladiator. If internal combustion successors to the Dodge Charger, Challenger and Durango are produced, they might also come with Hurricanes. 

Production of the engines has already begun at the Stellantis engine plant in Saltillo, Mexico alongside the HEMI V8s and there’s capacity to build about 250,000 Hurricanes per year. The first product announcement will probably come at the New York Auto Show in April, with the Wagoneer as the likely first application.  

2022 Ford F-150
Only 12 years ago, the vast majority of full-size pickups were V8s. Today only about one in ten F-150s are V8-powered, and GM’s full-size trucks offer four, six and eight-cylinder power. More efficient and powerful small engines have reduced the need for larger ones. Ford

The End of the V8? 

The Hurricane’s variants cover the same power and torque range as the 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter V8s currently used across its lineup. In the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, the 5.7 produces 392 horsepower and the 6.4 471. Neither engine gets particularly impressive fuel efficiency with EPA combined ratings of 17 mpg and 15 mpg respectively.  

Stellantis expects to get about a 15% improvement in fuel efficiency with the standard Hurricane which would bump the Wagoneer to almost 20 mpg. The HO version is projected to get 13% better efficiency which would bring the Grand Wagoneer to about 17 mpg. While still not great, it’s a notable improvement, especially at a time when gas prices are as high as $6 per gallon in California. The standard Hurricane, combined with a plug-in hybrid, could achieve 25 to 30 miles of electric range and hybrid efficiency in the mid-20s.  

Ford has been selling EcoBoost engines in the F-150 and other models for over a decade. Thanks to the V8-like performance and excellent torque characteristics, they now account for about 70% of all F-150 sales with the base naturally aspirated V6 taking about another 15%. About one in ten customers still order the 5.0-liter V8, or about 50,000 to 60,000 V8 F-150s a year.  

It’s likely that Stellantis will continue to offer V8s in at least some models, including the Ram 1500 and possibly the Grand Wagoneer. But many of the others will probably shift to Hurricane only. That will likely mean the end of the line for the HEMI-powered Jeep Wrangler 392, being replaced by the HO Hurricane. Models with the supercharged Hellcat V8s are more likely to be put out to pasture by powerful EVs. 

2021 Jeep Gladiator
It doesn’t use Stellantis’ Hemi V8, but Jeep’s Gladiator might be another beneficiary of the Hurricane. The related Wrangler can handle the Hemi’s size, and the same turbodiesel six optional in the bigger Rams is also found in the Jeep. Jeep

The Gradual Truck Conversion 

More broadly across the industry, very few all-new engines will be introduced in the coming years. GM, Ford and even Stellantis have dramatically cut back on their engineering investment in internal combustion engines and transmissions over the last several years. Others like Audi, Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover have announced that they will introduce their last new models with gas engines in the 2025 or 2026 and go EV-only thereafter.  

With longer distances to travel and generally lower fuel prices, the North American car market is not entirely analogous to Europe or Asia, but the industry is moving to electricity, and even trucks will soon be electric. Rivian’s R1T and Hummer’s EV are already here, and Ford’s F-150 Lightning is just weeks away from production. 

Just this week, Ford announced that they had completed trailer testing with the Lightning, pulling a 10,000-lb trailer up Davis Dam in Nevada in 118F and up I-70 in Colorado in -2F.  Chevrolet has promised a version of the Silverado EV that can tow 20,000 pounds. 

Aside from continually-improving range, EV trucks can do everything a gas version can do and often more. The R1T, notably, can handily outrun even the wildest gas-powered trucks, including Ram’s TRX. This doesn’t mean that EVs will entirely displace large gas vehicles, and EV charging will remain a challenge for some time, but if fuel prices remain high, there’s likely to be a strong shift to electrification. 

While the internal combustion piece of the pie may be an ever-shrinking share automakers have one eye on those customers too, and products like the Hurricane will help. 

https://www.forbes.com/wheels/news/stellantis-launches-hurricane-engine/