Chrysler Group LLC, working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, has delivered 15 Town & Country plug-in hybrid EV minivans to the fleets of three different cities. The vehicles will be driven by city staffers and tested for two years. Several other cities will receive demonstration fleet hybrid pickups as well.
Minivan in three cities
The deployment is an effort by Chrysler and the DOE to study the new vehicles for practicality, fuel economy, how they affect the regional power grid and a host of other factors. The three cities of deployment, chosen for the variety of their environments, are Charlotte, N.C., Auburn Hills, Mich. and Yuma, Ariz. Level2 charging stations will also be installed at those municipal sites.
Abdullah A. Bazzi, Senior Manager of Electrified Power Train Programs for Chrysler, said:
“This Town & Country minivan is the only minivan to boast a plug-in hybrid powertrain in combination with flex fuel capability.”
Under the hood
Only 25 Town & Country PHEV minivan have been made. Each packs an E85-compatible 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine that delivers up to 290 horsepower. It has front-wheel-drive, a two-mode hybrid transmission and is powered by a liquid-cooled 12.1 KWhr lithium-ion battery. It has a range of 700 miles and recharges in only 2-4 hours.
Two years of testing
In each municipality, the minivans will be driven by city employees for two years, or approximately 16,800 miles. At the end of that time, Chrysler will have collected sufficient data to determine whether the Town & Country plug-in hybrid EV minivan should see the production line.
Yuma and Auburn Hills
Yuma, Ariz., received its three Town & Country PHEV minivanss on Friday. The southern city was selected because of its extreme heat. It is not unusual for the temperature to reach 104 degrees during the summer months.
Three of the vehicles have also been delivered to Auburn Hills, Mich., where Chrysler headquarters is located.
“We’re pleased to have four of these 25 vehicles being tested right here in Chrysler’s backyard where they can get real-world use and be evaluated promptly.”
Eight of the PHEV minivans were delivered to Duke Energy in Charlotte, N.C. on Friday.
Mike Allison, Duke’s Director of Fleet Design and Technical Services, said:
“In 2009, we made a commitment to transition our company cars and trucks to all-electric or PHEVs… Giving our employees the opportunity to experience driving an electric vehicle… will help us better plan for and prepare for that transition. We appreciate Chrysler for selecting us to participate in their test.”
In addition to the PHEV minivans, Chrysler and the DOE are also distributing a limited run of Ram 1500 PHEV pickup trucks to a variety of locations for testing and data-gathering. Ten of the fuel-efficient trucks are going to DTE energy in Detroit, Mich. Nevada and Texas power companies will also each receive five pickups, as will various other municipalities across the U.S.
The Ram 1500 PHEV pickup carries a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine and a two-mode hybrid transmission. It is powered by a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery, similar to the one in the Town & Country PHEV.
Partially funded by government
Chrysler’s nationwide demonstration fleet totals 140 vehicles in all. Partial funding for the endeavor did come from the federal government, via the Department of Energy’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.