Produced as a joint project with the United States Department of Energy, a 140-vehicle fleet of Ram 1500 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) will be evaluated through true truck activities. Set for deployment across United States government branches as well as to power utilities, the crew cab pickup trucks are another step in the study of electric assist gasoline vehicles.
With a familiar 5.7 liter HEMI V-8 gasoline engine ready to work to full diligence, the Ram 1500 PHEV incorporates a much more complicated powertrain. Primarily power for the Ram 1500 PHEV for a maximum of 20 miles of travel comes from an electric motor fed by the capacity of a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery. Utilizing a Superpolymer battery supplied by Toronto, Ontario-based company Electrovaya is located comfortably underneath the rear seat. This particular 12.9-kilowatt power supply is advertised in providing low construction cost and is manufactured without the release of toxins or greenhouse emissions. Besides serving an active role in the Ram 1500 PHEV’s propulsion system, the lithium-ion battery will also be demonstrating itself as a mobile electrical power source for 120 and 240-volt power tools.
The Ram 1500 PHEV revisits the two-mode automatic transmission technology Chrysler Group had seemingly abandoned following the discontinuation of the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango sport utility vehicle. Originally developed in cooperation between Chrysler, General Motors and BMW, this special automatic transmission was engineered as a hybrid application suited for heavier duty vehicles. General Motors have been the only automaker currently applying the two-mode transmission into production vehicles. The special Ram 1500 will be the first test fleet of vehicles to employ a two-mode transmission on a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Through the evaluation of the 140-vehicle fleet, active data from the Ram 1500 PHEV will be electronically transmitted back to Chrysler to observe the truck’s handling of real-world conditions. In order to gather the full effect of the large-scale research study, Chrysler and the United States government partners are distributing the Ram 1500 PVEH across the country. The first such plug-in hybrid Ram 1500 was delivered to Yuma, Arizona as a chance to see the vehicle perform in extreme temperatures. States such as California, Kansas, Massachusetts and Hawaii will soon receive evaluation vehicles. For what will be three years of testing, Chrysler will hope to analyze the data of 6.5 million miles of travel from the 140 Ram 1500 PHEV full-sized pickup trucks.
As the research into zero emissions motoring ramps-up, Chrysler is actually seen treading on already ventured territory. When the still existed as Daimler-Chrysler in 2007, a plug-in hybrid powerplant was installed on the Dodge Sprinter medium-duty commercial van. Renewed in their efforts, the American-based auto company will also add a fleet of 25 smaller plug-in hybrid vehicles in the form of the Chrysler Town & Country minivan.
Investigating the technology, consumers certainly wonder if production of future Chrysler products using plug-in hybrid powertrains is close. In the case of the Ram 1500 PHEV, there are no plans to make the truck available for public sale.
Information and photo source: Chrysler Group