Fiat 500e

Chrysler may have been relatively late to the game when it came to vehicle powertrain electrification, but the US automaker is looking to play some catch-up with a little help from north of the border. Chrysler will work with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, at accelerating the development of electric powertrains while working with other Canadian entities on developing lighter metal materials, Automotive News says.

The electric-powertrain collaboration will last for five years and is valued at $18.2 million, with Chrysler contributing about half of that in the form of cash, manpower and resources at its North American plants. Concurrently, Chrysler is also working on a $3.9-million study that will involve developing types of aluminum and magnesium that would help reduce vehicle weight. Toronto's Ryerson University and Italy's University of Trento will be part of that project.

Chrysler disbanded its ENVI engineering department in 2009 and the only battery-electric vehicle in North America from Chrysler and sister company Fiat is the low-volume Fiat 500e, which the companies have said sells at about a $10,000 loss per unit. Still, Chrysler has shown signs of committing more resources towards powertrain electrification. In September, Chrysler indicated that it was looking to hire dozens of engineers and other workers to help speed up battery-electric and hybrid vehicle development.