Chrysler to deliver 10 plug-in hybrid Ram pickups to the U.S. Department of Energy

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 22, 2011

The U.S. Department of Energy will receive their order of 10 plug-in hybrid Ram pickups from Chrysler Group next week. Truck enthusiast Web site pickuptrucks.com said that the pickups will be delivered in Yuma, Ariz., and are considered part of a $100 million joint research project that’s funded by both the government agency and Chrysler.

By Oct. 1, the number of Ram 1500 pickups that will be delivered to agency offices throughout the U.S. will total 140 units.

The Ram hybrid will undergo testing in a large variety of driving conditions, with temperatures that range from minus 25 degrees to 125 degrees. The trucks will come with a 345-hp 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. GM had developed this modified two-mode hybrid transmission.

The trucks will be equipped with a 12.9-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery too. Chrysler’s Web site states that the plug-in Ram pickup can run on electric power for more than 20 miles.

It can go 655 miles on its 26-gallon gasoline tank. The truck has a towing capacity of up to 6,000 pounds. In addition, it has a 1,000-pound payload capacity. This program with the Department of Energy lasts until June 2014. Chrysler has yet to comment on this report.

In May 2011, Chrysler Group LLC began the delivery of Ram 1500 PHEV demonstration trucks to Yuma, Arizona, seeking to take advantage of the hot weather in the desert southwest, where it plans to conduct thermal testing of the pickup. Chrysler has already delivered these PHEV demonstration pickups to San Francisco and Sacramento in California, Charlotte in North Carolina, Boston in Massachusetts, and Albany, in New York. Chrysler recently delivered five PHEV Ram 1500 PHEV trucks to the New York Police Department.

Trevor Lauer, DTE Energy vice president Marketing and Renewables, remarked that the PHEV Ram 1500 PHEV pickups will show a preview of the fuel savings that PHEV technologies would bring, so they -- at some point – could make their truck fleet more environmentally friendly. He noted that DTE Energy will be using the PHEV trucks at its service centers and in the field at their renewable energy facilities.

This project remains to be a demonstration program, as Chrysler currently has no intention to have a production version of the PHEV Ram 1500 trucks. It involved the participation of cities and states that will evaluate temperature extremes and urban traffic cycles, as well as varying climates and geographies. Mated to a two-mode hybrid transmission is a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine with Fuel Saver technology that helps enhance fuel efficiency during highway speeds by shutting down up to four cylinders.

Featuring a liquid-cooled 12.9kWhr lithium ion battery pack and a 6.6 kW on-board charger, the Ram 1500 PHEV could generate AC power of up to 6.6kW. It also features directional charging as well as reverse power flow and full regenerative braking for capturing additional energy.

Interestingly, the front axle of the Ram 1500 PHEV’s four-wheel-drive automatic transmission could be disconnected when unneeded, resulting to better fuel economy. Placed under the second-row seat of the Ram 1500 PHEV, the pickup’s battery pack is liquid cooled for a more consistent battery temperature. The pickup also includes a 240 volt/30 amp four-prong outlet as well as 120volt/20amp duplex outlet power strip placed in the rear box.

During the demonstration program, participants will track the urban use of the Ram 1500 PHEV trucks to gauge their battery performance as well as overall hybrid efficiency. These trucks will also be deployed to military bases where they could send power back to the electric grid (reverse power flow) of up to 6.6kW. This program is funded partly by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Transportation Electrification Initiative as sponsored by the Department of Energy.

DOE and Chrysler Group LLC provided $48 million and $49.4 million, respectively, for the program, which was designed to develop vehicles that are not only cost effective, but also answers daily safety concerns sans recharging while helping reduce reliance on foreign oil.

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