The U.S. Department of Energy has chosen the Chrysler Group to receive a grant amounting to as high as $48 million. This is part of the government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act DOE Vehicle Electrification program, which has a total budget of $2.4 billion.
With the funding, Chrysler Group will undergo a three-year project and make 140 Ram PHEVs, which are then tested on different geographic locations and climates around the U.S. According to Chrysler Group LLC Senior Vice President—Powertrain Paolo Ferrero, this program signifies the goal of the auto industry, key partners, suppliers, and even government, to show just how this advanced technology can be introduced to the market.
Getting DOE-support for this technology, he continued, is significant for the company and its key suppliers as it will help them determine how PHEV systems will operate in different real-world conditions and even know if there is customer acceptance. The Ram PHEV to be developed will carry the company’s HEMI 5.7-liter V-8 engine with a two-mode hybrid transmission plus a lithium-ion battery with 12 kWh. Using purely its electric motor, it can go as far as 20 miles with no emissions.
Compared to the average drive cycles, the Ram PHEV has a fuel economy rating that is better by 65%. For the Ram PHEV test fleet, the company has collaborated with Electrovaya Inc., which is responsible for the lithium-ion batteries. With this grant, the company expects that vehicle-electrification technology will develop at a faster rate. Helping achieve this goal are 21 of Chrysler Group’s partners, expected to run independent tests on the Ram PHEV.
These partners include universities, government agencies, and utility companies, which will provide the company with the necessary data. The company had initially revealed in 2008 their plan to introduce to the market a Ram Hybrid Electric Vehicle. The company evaluated how the market responded to hybrid pickups and based on that, it found out that it could not come up with the right business case and subsequently cancelled the development of the 2011 Ram HEV.
By collaborating with Fiat Group, Chrysler Group hopes to bring new technologies and platforms that will improve its long-term strategy of lower emissions and better fuel efficiency. The company has a five-year plan with a rigid product schedule – a part of which is having a progressive vehicle electrification strategy.