AUBURN HILLS — Chrysler Group Thursday gave Detroit-based DTE Energy a test fleet of 10 plug-in hybrid Ram 1500 pickup trucks as part of a demonstration project.
Over the next three years, the utility will rack up thousands of real-world city miles with the trucks, which were developed in partnership with the United States Department of Energy.
The project aims to evaluate the trucks’ city drive cycles, charging performance, fuel economy, thermal management, emissions, impact on the electric grid, and real-world performance.
The national project will involve 140 vehicles. More than 100 vehicles have been delivered to 16 different cities in the past six months.
“Cities have been carefully selected to help the Chrysler Group LLC collect a wide range of data,” said Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of Chrysler’s advanced hybrid vehicle project. “Working with a local energy partner like DTE that is in our backyard offers a great combination of suburban and rural driving, as well as ever-changing Michigan weather, is ideal as a test cycle for these vehicles. The constant charging will allow us to measure the impact on battery life and charging efficiency.”
Chrysler Group LLC began delivering Ram 1500 PHEV trucks to the city of Yuma, Ariz., in May, to take full advantage of hot weather and conduct thermal testing in the desert southwest. Other cities that have received the demonstration Ram 1500 pickups include San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif., Charlotte, N.C., Boston, Mass., and Albany, N.Y. Just recently, the New York Police Department also took delivery of five PHEV Ram 1500 PHEV trucks.
“The trucks will provide us with a glimpse of what kind of fuel savings cans be afforded with PHEV technologies so we can, at some point, make our truck fleet more environmentally friendly,” said Trevor Lauer, DTE Energy vice president of marketing and renewables. “We’ll be using the trucks at our service centers and in the field at our renewable energy facilities.”
Strictly a demonstration program, there are no plans for a production version of the PHEV Ram 1500 trucks at this time.
Cities and states were selected to evaluate temperature extremes, urban traffic cycles and diverse climates and geographies.
The Ram 1500 PHEV includes a liquid-cooled 12.9-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack and a 6.6-kilowatt on-board 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 of the four-wheel-drive automatic transmission 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 Hemi is equipped with a Fuel Saver technology 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.
Urban use 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 LLC 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 next year.
More at www.chryslergroupllc.com.