Chrysler will deliver 10 Ram 1500 PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) hybrid pickups to utilities company DTE Energy of Detroit for real-world testing. As part of a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the program hopes to evaluate driver usage, charging patterns, vehicle efficiency, and overall impact on the region's electric grid.
The vehicles being given to DTE are part of a fleet of 140 Ram PHEV trucks, which are being distributed to energy companies in select regions of the U.S. for testing purposes. Over the next three years, these testers will supply useful data on the performance and practicality of plug-in hybrid trucks. Detroit was selected for its combination of suburban and rural roads, as well as for its ever-changing weather. These factors will help put the Ram PHEVs' batteries to the test. Earlier this year, Chrysler delivered hybrid Ram models to the city of Yuma, Ariz. There, the trucks were submitted to the extreme temperatures of the desert southwest. Over the past six months, 16 different cities took delivery of more than 100 Ram PHEVs.
"The trucks will provide us with a glimpse of what kind of fuel savings can be afforded with PHEV technologies so we can, at some point, make our truck fleet more environmentally friendly," said Trevor Lauer, vice president of marketing and renewables for DTE Energy. "We'll be using the trucks at our service centers and in the field at our renewable energy facilities."
Primary power for the Ram 1500 PHEV is supplied by a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, which is mated to a two-mode hybrid transmission. A liquid-cooled 12.9-kWhr lithium-ion battery sits beneath the second-row seat, and comes with a 6.6-kilowat onboard charger. The battery system has a "reverse power flow" feature, which in certain instances can provide power (up to 6.6 kilowats) back to the grid. The truck can further save fuel by disconnecting the front axle of the four-wheel-drive transmission when not needed. Like many Chrysler V-8s, the 5.7-liter HEMI in the Ram PHEV features Fuel Saver technology, which can deactivate up to four cylinders at highway speeds for better efficiency.
Chrysler's demonstration fleet will be tracked to measure efficiency and battery performance, which should help better the company's (and DOE's) understanding of plug-in fleets and their effect on our charging infrastructure. Chrysler says there are currently no plans to put the Ram 1500 PHEV into production, but we could still see some of the hybrid truck's technology used in future models.