AUBURN HILLS — Chrysler Group LLC, working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, Wednesday delivered eight demonstration-fleet Chrysler Town & Country plug-in hybrid minivans to the Charlotte, N.C. utility holding company Duke Energy – its largest such deployment to date.

The Duke Energy partnership is one of several that will see a total of 25 plug-in hybrid minivans subjected to a range of driving cycles.

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Today’s deployment is part of an ongoing two-year study of the technology’s real-world performance in a minivan application.

“Chrysler is looking forward to the two years of real-world data that will be obtained,” said Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of the Chrysler Group’s advanced hybrid vehicle project. “Such data will enable Chrysler engineers to assess the viability of the technology for future applications.”

Duke Energy welcomed Wednesday’s delivery at its headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.

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“In 2009, we made a commitment to transition our company cars and trucks to all-electric or PHEVs, with a goal of 100 percent of all new vehicles purchased after 2020 having plug-in capability,” said Mike Allison, Director of Fleet Design and Technical Services. “Giving our employees the opportunity to experience driving an electric vehicle, as well as installing the charging infrastructure and collecting the data will help us better plan for and prepare for that transition. We appreciate Chrysler for selecting us to participate in their test.”

Each plug-in hybrid minivans is equipped with an E85-compatible 3.6-liter Pentastar engine mated to a front-wheel-drive, two-mode hybrid transmission.

It also is powered by a liquid-cooled 12.1 KWhr lithium-ion battery that affords a total output of 290 horsepower and a range of 700-miles. Charge times are two-to-four hours at 220 volts with a “Level 2” charge cord unit, and eight-to-fifteen hours at 110 volts with a “Level 1” charge unit.

The vehicle’s hybrid system does not require charging.

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A fleet of plug-in hybrid Ram pickups also is being evaluated as part of a wider project.