DaimlerChrysler to Test HEVs

DaimlerChrysler (DC) will test a “plug-in” hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) version of its Dodge Sprinter vans in early 2005. The purpose is to evaluate the technological feasibility of such vehicles and gauge market acceptance.

The test will involve three Sprinter HEVs. The Kansas City Regional Transit Authority will operate a diesel version, while the other two running on gasoline and will be tested by Southern California Edison and South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The production of the vans was made possible through DC’s partnership with Palo Alto-based Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

Plug-in HEVs combine an internal combustion engine with an electric motor and rechargeable battery, and can be charged via a standard 110- or 220-volt outlet.

DC said the Sprinter offers fuel consumption savings of 10- to 50%, depending on the type of driving application. HEVs are most fuel efficient in stop-and-go situations. Running on electricity alone, the Dodge Sprinter is capable of traveling up to 20 miles before the engine is needed.

“EPRI-led studies have shown that plugging in each night at home would save the consumer 50- to 75% on operating costs,” said Ed Kjaer, director of electric transportation at Southern California Edison.

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