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At the cutting edge of technology development

Automotive technology develops rapidly and FCA has been investing heavily to ensure its vehicles provide the most up-to-date in-car technology, connected services and driver assistance systems, while also improving efficiency and sustainability.

In 2019, the group invested approximately $4.2 billion (£3.8bn) in research and development, representing around 3.9% of net revenues from industrial operations.

The latest model updates across the Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep brands see the introduction of new infotainment systems with larger screens, better connectivity and improved smartphone integration.

The new Fiat 500 is the first FCA car to be equipped with the brand’s new Uconnect 5 infotainment system. It is delivered via a 10.25-inch high-definition horizontal touchscreen with a 16:9 aspect ratio that fits perfectly into the dashboard. It also has a natural language interface system, with advanced speech recognition, to talk to the car to control parameters, set the climate control and choose the music.

As more FCA products become electrified, connected services will play a bigger part in enabling drivers to control and monitor their vehicle effectively.

Specific features developed

New Uconnect Services have been developed with specific features for electrified driving and advanced on- and off-board connectivity:

My Assistant is a system that puts the customer into contact with an operations centre to ask for help in the event of an emergency and receive localised support for roadside assistance.

My Car allows the driver to monitor the condition of the car, checking important information at a glance, such as battery charge, fuel level, tyre pressure, and service schedule.

My Remote can be used to schedule charging from the mobile app, locate the exact position of the car, lock and unlock the doors, turn on the lights, programme the air conditioning system, check key parameters, such as speed and driving area, and receive a notification if they are not respected.

My Navigation can be used to check traffic conditions, weather and speed cameras along the route. It can also be used to search for points of interest and view charging stations that can be reached with the battery charge. The Send & Go function can be used to send the destination to the navigation system of the car directly from the app.

My eCharge can be used to promptly identify the nearest public charging station, check its availability, start the charging process and pay. It can also be used to set-up and control private wall boxes.

Additional on-demand services include the My Wi-Fi, My Alert and My Fleet Manager packages.

These services will be introduced across the range of Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep models.

Alongside infotainment and connectivity, autonomous driving continues to be an important area of development for FCA.

The new Giulia and Stelvio are the first FCA cars to feature Level 2 autonomy, which is achieved when the driver can leave the car to control the accelerator, brake and steering in specific conditions, via electronic systems that require continual monitoring by the driver, but support them to offer greater comfort on long journeys

Complementing the adaptive cruise control, Traffic Jam Assistant keeps the car in the middle of the lane in heavy traffic and Highway Assist regulates the speed on the basis of the current motorway speed limits.

Maximising powertrain efficiency is part of FCA’s commitment to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy. This includes developing more efficient engines and transmissions and optimising the vehicle/powertrain systems.

Electrified powertrains in two years’ time

By 2022, it expects to offer more than 30 nameplates with electrified powertrains. These include: 12-volt engine stop/start, 48-volt mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

Plug-in hybrid variants of the Jeep Renegade and Jeep Compass will join the new fully-electric Fiat 500 as the brand’s first plug-in vehicles, alongside the Fiat 500 and Panda 12-volt hybrid models.

The E-Ducato electric commercial vehicle will also launch this year.

Sustainability is about more than just electrification, however. In the 500 and Panda Hybrid, the seats are the first in the automotive sector to be made of Seaqual Yarn, a special material derived from recycled plastic, 10% of which originates from the sea; 90% from land.

Seaqual Yarn is produced by transforming plastics collected from the sea into flakes of polyethylene terephthalate. These flakes are then used in the yarn from which the fabrics are made.

In the weaving phase, marine polyester is mixed with other natural, recycled or recovered fibres. This process is completed by the application of dyes and finishes which minimise the use of water and energy.