How the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve Works

The ME Transmission

Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler

A transmission specially designed by Ricardo is getting the power to the rear wheels.

The 7-speed, double wet-clutch transmission is controlled with electronic thumb shifters mounted on the steering wheel, just like a Formula One car. In-car computers not only assist with shifting (generating 200-millisecond shift times), but they actually predict which gear will be needed next.

After your amazement wears off, you might find yourself wondering what exactly a double wet-clutch transmission is. A wet clutch is simply a clutch immersed in a lubricating fluid, which keeps the clutch surfaces clean and reduces temperatures. This improves performance and prolongs the life of the clutch.

Photo courtesy DaimlerChrysler

A double clutch allows for seamless shifting between gears. In a normal manual transmission, the clutch disengages, breaking the connection between the engine and the transmission for a moment, whenever the driver shifts gears. This results in a loss of torque and momentum. In a double clutch, there are two clutches -- one for the even gears and one for the odd gears -- nested within each other. If you're in third gear and make the shift to fourth, the clutch for fourth gear engages at the exact moment that the clutch for third gear pulls away.

Fancy equipment is great, but what can the ME do with it? The car hasn't been tested independently, so the only performance stats come from Chrysler, based on computer modeling and its own testing. Chrysler reports:

  • Top speed: 248 mph
  • 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds
  • 0-100 mph in 6.2 seconds

That's what car lovers call, "Putting you back in your seat." The ME should be able to blast down a quarter-mile drag strip in 10.6 seconds at 142 mph.