Chrysler Rolling Out Test Fleet Of Plug-In Hybrid Pickups

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Chrysler Group LLC Wednesday delivered the first of a demonstration fleet of Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric pickup trucks to the city of Yuma, Ariz.

Chrysler says the trucks are purely for demonstration purposes, and that there are no plans for a production version of the PHEV Ram 1500 truck at this time. (Unsolicited Opinion Dept.: That strikes me as a shame. Now is the time to jump on this market!)

Chrysler developed the vehicles in partnership with the United States Department of Energy, Nationally officials plan to drive a demonstration fleet of 140 plug-in hybrid trucks up to 6.5 million miles to evaluate customer usage, drive cycles, charging, thermal management, fuel economy, emissions and impact on the region’s electric grid.

In addition to Yuma, 11 other partners across the United States will receive vehicles for demonstration and testing purposes.

Cities and states were selected to evaluate temperature extremes, urban traffic cycles and diverse climates and geographies from North Dakota, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Arizona. Cities will include San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif.; Austin, Texas and Kansas City, Mo.

The Ram 1500 PHEV includes a liquid-cooled 12.9-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack and a 6.6-kilowatt onboard charger.

Additional features include AC power generation of up to 6.6kW; directional charging; reverse power flow and full regenerative braking used to capture more energy.

For fuel economy improvements, the front axle can be disconnected when not needed. The powertrain also includes a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine and a two-mode hybrid transmission. The 5.7-liter is equipped with a Multiple Displacement System that improves fuel efficiency at highway speeds by shutting down fuel delivery to up to four cylinders.

The battery pack is located under the second-row seat of the pickup and is liquid cooled to help maintain a consistent battery temperature. For on-the-job electrical power tools, a 240 volt/30 amp four-prong outlet and 120volt/20amp duplex outlet power strip is located in the rear box.

“Cities have been carefully selected to help the Chrysler Group collect a wide range of data,” said Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of Chrysler’s advanced hybrid vehicle project. “Temperature extremes found in the cold of North Dakota or the heat of Arizona can have a severe impact on battery life and charging efficiency.”

The choice of a Ram 1500 pickup truck was based upon two-speed transmission technology that was readily available from a previous vehicle electrification project from the Chrysler Group.

Urban and rural use also will be tracked to measure battery performance and overall hybrid efficiency with the demonstration fleet of pickups. Other uses include military bases where vehicles will be able to provide power back to the electric grid in what is termed “reverse power flow” of up to 6.6kW.

Funding for the program in part is provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Transportation Electrification Initiative sponsored by the DOE. The grant, totaling $48 million from DOE and $49.4 million from Chrysler Group, was designed to develop vehicles that will be cost efficient for consumers, satisfy safety concerns of daily travel without recharging and help reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The Chrysler Group also is developing a similar fleet of 25 Town & Country minivans with plug-in hybrid technology for demonstration and evaluation that will be allocated to select cities later this year.

More at www.chryslergroupllc.com

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