This week, Yuma, Arizona, became the first of 12 U.S. cities to receive a fleet of Ram pickups that have been equipped with plug-in hybrid electric powertrains. The trucks are part of a three-year, $100m demonstration program sponsored by Chrysler and the U.S. Department of Energy. Each one of the 10 trucks arriving in Yuma—like the 130 more to be distributed elsewhere— is equipped with Chrysler’s tried-and-true 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 under the hood and a liquid-cooled, 12.9-kWh battery pack tucked beneath the second row bench. In case of a local power outage, the powertrain is capable of a “reverse power flow” to keep the lights on—at least in City Hall.
The trucks also feature a two-mode transmission “based upon two-speed transmission technology that was readily available from a previous vehicle electrification project,” Chrysler’s press release said. (Reading between the lines, Chrysler has finally found something to do with a hunk of leftover transmissions from the ill-timed previous-gen Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen hybrids.) Also along for the ride are regenerative brakes, cylinder deactivation, and a 240-volt/30-amp four-prong power outlet and 120-volt/20-amp outlet power strip in the cargo bed to power tools, cell phones, and margarita blenders.
The municipalities earmarked for the plug-in pickups are scattered from coast to coast and from Arizona to North Dakota, for use in both cities and rural areas, in order to gather a wide range of usage data and to see where and in which circumstances big-battery technology does best. Needless to say, the usage data collected will be markedly different than that which Toyota is gleaning from its Prius plug-in hybrid program. But unlike the Prius plug-in, which goes into production in 2012, the Ram plug-in hybrid program is strictly experimental, as is an upcoming endeavor to build 25 Chrysler Town & Country plug-in hybrids, and there are no plans for a production version.Tags: Dodge, Dodge Ram, plug-in hybrid, Ram, Ram 1500, Ram 1500 PHEV |