Press Information Service
Detroit 31, Michigan
Statement On Gas Turbine Engine Program At Chrysler Corporation:
In New York on December 27, we announced that our coast-to-coast run in a turbine-powered Dodge was one phase of a program of evaluation we have under taken to guide us in making a decision regarding the place of the gas turbine engine in the company’s product plans. We said also that if this trip proved successful, and if other phases of the program of evaluation brought similar encouragement, it was likely that a decision would be made in the near future to put a turbine-powered automobile into limited production.
As you know, the Dodge coast-to-coast run was very successful indeed, as was the coastal run from Los Angeles to San Francisco by a turbine-powered Plymouth Turbo Fury. In action over the road, the turbine engines fully lived up to our expectations.
Between the time when a new and revolutionary automotive product is only a concept in the mind of an engineer and the time when it becomes available in volume to motorists, it passes through four stages of evolution:
(1) Engineering research and development, including exhaustive laboratory and road testing;
(2) Consumer research and manufacturing research -- including the sampling and analyzing of public reaction to determine the size and nature of a market for the proposed product and the rigorous analysis of manufacturing processes and costs to determine the technical and financial feasibility of building it in volume;
(3) Building a limited number of cars and placing them in the hands of typical motorists who will, use them under a variety of normal driving conditions, and
(4) Volume production for sale by dealers.
With the successful completion of the Dodge coast—to—coast run and the Plymouth run from Los Angeles to San Francisco, the first stage of this evaluation was completed.
Since January 1 we have been in the second product planning stage -- which includes an evaluation of consumer reactions to, the turbine and a thorough analysis of manufacturing processes and costs to determine the technical and financial feasibility of putting a turbine—powered automobile into limited production.
During this period, the Plymouth and Dodge turbo cars have been displayed to people in many major market cities. Thousands of people came to see the turbine cars. Public interest was intense and serious. Thousands filled out our consumer questionnaires to give us their opinions regarding the turbine cars.
Several thousand other people, who had not seen the cars but had read or heard reports of the turbine development in the press, TV and radio news reports, wrote to us in Detroit to express their wishes to own turbo cars.
Public enthusiasm and excitement over the turbine was overwhelming. Needless to say, we are very pleased.
The “pocketbook” benefits of the turbine were of uppermost interest to the people who saw the turbo cars and filled out turbine questionnaires.
One out of every two persons considered the fact that the turbine will burn any fuel and that it promises less maintenance and failure as the two most important advantages of the new engine. Thirty—nine per cent voted for no tune-ups and 34 per cent for no oil changes as the top important features of the turbine.
When asked “If this car were offered for sale to the motoring public, do you think you would buy one?” 30 per cent of the turbine viewers said “yes” they would definitely buy one and 54 per cent answered they would think seriously of buying one.
On the basis of our evaluation of consumer response to the turbo cars, we at Chrysler Corporation have satisfied ourselves that a market does exist for turbine’ powered automobiles. Also, our manufacturing research experts presented us’ with a favorable report on the limited production possibilities of the turbine engine.
As a result, we have decided to build 50 to 75 turbine-powered passenger cars, which should become available for sale to selected customers, in the latter part of 1963.
During recent weeks, I have often been asked, “How serious are you on this turbine engine car?” Today, I can answer that we are as serious as we can be: We are going to build them and sell them.
Our engineering and styling staffs are now designing the turbine car we are going to produce. This turbine car will be entirely new in appearance and will be engineered to take advantage of the inherent features of the gas turbine engine.
The gas turbine program has been a number one, priority at Chrysler research for many years. Many millions of dollars were spent on its development.
Substantially more millions must be spent to put it into limited production. Our investment, we believe, has reached the point where it will begin to pay off for the motorist.
The decision to build the turbine has put us in stage three in the evolution of a new product, that is, limited production.
This does not mean, however, that we are finished with stage two consumers and manufacturing research. Chrysler will continue to be very busy with both activities. Consumer research will make systematic and scientific samplings of public opinion as it concerns the budding turbine market. And our production experts have their jobs cut out for them, because, in effect, they have to create a textbook on the machines, materials and techniques that have to be devised to build turbine engines economically -- something not done by anyone, anywhere.
The successful outcome of both of these functions will determine how far and how fast we can go ahead with the turbine program.
Since we have already received thousands of requests from people all over the country who would like to have one of the turbine cars, it would be appropriate for me to explain this term “selected buyers.” By selected buyers, we mean we would like to have as wide a geographical spread for the cars as possible. We would like to have some cars in the west, the east, the Midwest, New England and the south . . . and we’ve talked about putting some of the cars in Canada. In short, we want the cars geographically spread so that we can get experience in operating under all sorts of traffic, road and climatic conditions.
At this point, I would like to emphasize that currently Chrysler Corporation is not soliciting customer car orders for turbine cars, and therefore, we have not authorized any of our dealers, employees or others to solicit or advertise for such orders. We, of course, welcome consumer inquiries about our turbine program but outside of providing available information on turbine activity, we are making no commitments or selections now for prospective turbine owners.
The turbine-powered Dodge Truck displayed at the Chicago Auto Show was created as a research vehicle to explore the many facets of gas turbine engine application in the trucking industry. Its potentialities may be of major significance in this area of transportation.
The turbine truck is a natural outgrowth of Chrysler Corporation’s turbine research program and philosophy.
From the beginning, the primary objective of Chrysler turbine development was to engineer successfully a turbine engine for production passenger cars. An objective, I might add, many turbine researchers elsewhere considered unattainable in the foreseeable future.
At Chrysler, our research team headed by George J. Huebner, Jr. - executive engineer - Research, knew that the successful application of the turbine to passenger cars not only solved most of the special requirements of other surface vehicles but also provided the economic base for mass production of the turbine engine.
The lowest possible costs can best be obtained by having a basic passenger car turbine unit that can be produced in volume and then can be explored for application to trucks and a wide variety of other uses.
It should come as no surprise that Chrysler Corporation has developed the first practical passenger car gas turbine engine.
Chrysler has earned a reputation for engineering leadership through the years.
We feel that the passenger car gas turbine engine is the most significant power plant development to date in the automotive industry. Its potential and application is extremely promising for the motoring public. And it has been an exclusive Chrysler engineering achievement.
As I indicated earlier we were most gratified with the results of our coast-to- coast run with the Dodge Turbo Dart. George Huebner and his team left New York City at 12:45 P.M. on December 27, and arrived in the Los Angeles downtown area at 10:25 P.M. on December 31.
They had set for themselves a rugged wintertime schedule -- one that even experienced test drivers had assured them that they could not keep. But they did. And they gained several hours over the elapsed time originally projected.
During the run the Dodge Turbo Dart was subjected to snowstorms, freezing rain, snow-packed and icy roads, sub-zero temperatures and 25 to 40 mile head winds most of the way across the country.
The successful performance and reliability of the turbine engine throughout these weather ranges and at maximum permissible speeds was most satisfying.
The transcontinental run, in effect, was a drive over a 3, 100-mile test track loaded with conditions over which we had no control, and yet the turbine lived up to all our expectations.
As to economy and mileage on the cross-country trip, let me say this. The turbine used gasoline, diesel fuel and JP-4, that is, military jet fuel. They were all equally satisfactory in performance. As far as mileage is concerned, we have published figures on ‘mileage made under controlled conditions and these figures are valid. The conditions that were driven under on the coast-to-coast trip were hardly the optimum for fuel economy. The car skated on ice, it was driven through snow- storms, and .the mileage varied all over the map with the weather and wind conditions. I will say, however, that the turbine mileage was consistently better than piston car mileage under the same conditions.
Under controlled conditions with speeds ranging from city traffic to 80 miles an hour, we have consistently averaged about 17-1/4 miles to the gallon with the turbine engine - - with an overall travel average of about 52 miles an hour for extended distances • That overall average is based on four kinds of fuel, white gasoline, leaded gasoline, JP-4 and diesel fuel . . . we put in three to four gallons at a time, ran it out until the engine was almost starved, and then dumped other fuel in. Diesel fuel, which gives the best mileage because it has more heat units per gallon has achieved 19.4 miles per gallon with the turbine engine running at constant speed on trips in excess of 500 miles.
We who have been driving and developing turbines have never quite become accustomed to the pleasure of feeling the way a turbine delivers passing power on the straightaway or the way it bites into a hill.
Driving west, our engineers again experienced the performance strength of the turbine when they would drop back of piston-powered cars of all makes on the road and wait for a long, steep mountain grade and then zing around them while they worked at full throttle to hold their speed on the hill.
We inspected the engine thoroughly after the trip. Every part was in excellent condition. In fact, we could have turned the Dodge turbine car around and driven it back to New York just as hard as on the trip west.
Why should we want to put turbines in automobiles? Why at this late date in the history of an industry founded and based originally on Dr. Otto’s reciprocating engine and upon 80 years of subsequent development, should we propose to supplant or supplement it with an engine as revolutionary in concept and in accomplishment as the gas turbine?
The answers to this lie in the turbine itself. But even deeper than that, they lie in the needs and desires of people. One might as well ask why color TV, when black and white is so satisfactory; or why jet planes when the old reciprocating engine-powered planes were so fast and so satisfactory and so comfortable.
I am not exaggerating when I say that the gas turbine may mean more to you and the driving public than any of these things because it can increase the range of man’s powered mechanical servants to more people than has heretofore been possible. Our entire social organization today is built on the availability, the reliability, and the speed of personal transportation.
More than most people stop to realize, the automobile has changed the personal lives of the last few generations and is still doing so on a world-wide basis. We believe that the gas turbine has the possibility of making the benefits of the automobile and of other self-powered machines available and economically desirable to even greater numbers of people.
In the engineering answers to the question of “why” perhaps the most fundamental one is the simplicity of-the turbine. It has only about a fifth as many parts as the reciprocating engine. These parts rotate smoothly on simple sleeve bearings. This makes the turbine smooth, practically vibration-less. Again we go back to jet aircraft. Compare the smooth rush of power in a jet airliner take—off to the labored clawing into the sky of its piston-powered cousin.
The gas turbine-powered car gives one the same sensation. Even hard-to- convince engineers who have spent a lifetime developing piston-powered automobiles find their conviction in the exclusiveness of the ability of a reciprocating engine to power an automobile drastically altered after their first turbine ride.
But we must have more enduring reasons than a sensation alone. The airlines and the military, with millions and millions of mites of service experience with the turbine, have found that turbines are long-lived engines. The absence of the torturing movements of the reciprocating engine means less wear-and-tear and less maintenance. And while we are on the subject of maintenance, consider that this engine is inherently self-cooled and it makes no difference whether the air temperature is 120°F. above zero or 60°F. below, it stilt cools and it still starts quickly and smoothly.
There are no timed events in the turbine engine, no distributors and breaker points to re-tune seasonally; lighting the fire in a turbine takes one spark plug, with the simplest ignition system imaginable. As a matter of fact, we could arrange to light it with a match, or a lighter flint if you so desire. The turbine needs no anti freeze, and consider that we have never changed oil in one of our turbine engines - - fill it up once and it lasts for the life of the engine.
The turbine has a clean, cool exhaust, no carbon monoxide, no unburned carbon, no raw hydrocarbons. In other words, it does not contribute to smog nor does it go down the street pouring smoke into the atmosphere like a diesel, but nevertheless it will run beautifully on peanut oil, gasoline, kerosene, alcohol, furnace oil, French perfume, or practically anything that is available as fuel, that will run through a pipe and that will burn with air.
Two methods of eliminating the exhaust tendencies of the spark-ignition piston engine have been proposed. The first is already in production and consists, as you know, of a crankcase ventilation system, which returns the blow-by gases and oil vapors back into the intake manifold where they are burned.
The second method is to find some way of burning the unburned hydrocarbons in the engine’s exhaust before they can reach the atmosphere. This latter method is considered essential, and it is proposed to equip all cars with a muffler of either the catalytic or combustion type.
The after-burning muffler in the form that it has been made to work experimentally is essentially a gas turbine heat exchanger and burner.
Five years ago when asked to state the major problem, which impeded gas turbine development, we quickly pointed to materials. At that time and today gas turbines require alloy elements in large quantities which are exotic, rare and very costly. The economical and practical solution of that problem has been an exclusive Chrysler Research achievement. We have developed turbine blade alloys which will stand the red-hot tornado of 1700 degrees F. gas that drives the turbines, at least as well and, in some cases, better than the costly materials of limited availability used in aircraft turbines. We have developed oxidation resistant materials that can be used for internal structural parts and remain useable up to 2,300 degrees F. This material is made from elements as available and as low cost as those used in an automobile fender. We have developed materials that seal off the high pressure gases in the rotating regenerator, operate without lubricants up to 1, 300 degrees F. and run indefinitely under these conditions. So, today, we say without hesitation that the material problems are overcome.
What about the future of the turbine car? We would not be standing before you today if we did not believe that the trend, which we have started, is a continuing one. People who have ridden in these turbine-powered cars like them. Preliminary cost studies have indicated that if built in volume comparable with the piston engine that turbine costs, too, can at Least be comparable.
This is only the beginning. The turbine power plant is today fully competitive with the piston engine in most things and ahead of it in others. Its future development potential is outstanding. An increase of only 400 degrees in operating temperatures wilt decrease its size and weight by 30 to 40 per cent and at the same time, decrease its fuel consumption more than 20 per cent. The problem of achieving higher operating temperatures within the next five years looks no more difficult than the turbine project did five years ago. And this is by no means an end to its potential.
The prospects for turbine automobile are most exciting. Old engineering limitations are removed by the lightness and compactness of the turbine, and turbine cars wilt have a more exciting took and more efficient shape.
Yes, the turbine power plant will change the cars you drive. They will look different, feet different, sound different and be different. We think you will say -- delightfully different.
Page updated 4-15-2004