Working in partnership with the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE), Chrysler Group LLC is sending 14 Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) pickup trucks for testing in San Francisco and Sacramento, CA – part of a three-year national demonstration project that will involve 140 such vehicles to evaluate customer usage, drive cycles, charging, thermal management, fuel economy, emissions and impact on the region’s electric grid from PHEVs.
In addition to San Francisco and Sacramento, 10 other partners across the U.S. are slated to receive vehicles for demonstration and testing purposes, said Chrysler, to evaluate temperature extremes, urban traffic cycles and diverse climates and geographies from North Dakota, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Arizona.
Earlier this year, the company delivered 10 Ram 1500 PHEV trucks to the city of Yuma, AZ, to take full advantage of hot weather and conduct thermal testing in the desert southwest.
“Cities have been carefully selected to help the Chrysler Group LLC collect a wide range of data,” explained Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of Chrysler’s advanced hybrid vehicle project. “Both San Francisco and Sacramento offer heavy traffic and urban driving that are ideal city test cycles. The constant charging will allow us to measure the impact on battery life and charging efficiency.”
Chrysler stressed, however, that its PHEV pickups are strictly demonstration vehicles and that there are no plans for a production version of the PHEV Ram 1500 truck at this time.
Funding for this test program in part is provided by the nearly $900 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – also known as the “stimulus bill” – through the Transportation Electrification Initiative sponsored by DOE. The energy agency is spending $48 million on this project while Chrysler said it is contributing $49.4 million.
The Ram 1500 PHEV includes a liquid-cooled 12.9 kilowatt per hour (kWhr) lithium ion battery pack and a 6.6 kilowatt (kW) on-board charger. Additional features include an a/c power generation of up to 6.6 kW; 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 5.7L Hemi V-8 engine that can shut down up to four cylinders at highway speeds to save on fuel, and a two-mode hybrid transmission.
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 120 volt/20 amp duplex outlet power strip is located in the rear box, the company noted.
Chrysler added that it’s also 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.