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Chrysler's Ram brand delivers its first plug-in hybrid pickups

Chrysler announced over a year ago that they were working with the Department of Energy to put together a demonstration fleet of plug-in electric hybrid Ram 1500 pickups and yesterday, the Ram brand delivered the first 10 PHEV Ram 1500s to the municipal services group of Yuma Arizona.

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These 10 PHEV Ram pickups are the first of 140 trucks planned for similar commercial/government use in 11 other areas around the United States. These trucks are slated to be used for three years by the various groups as part of a study to evaluate real world data on a plug-in hybrid pickup, including charging issues, thermal management, fuel economy, emissions and impact on the region’s electric grid – all of which are concerns of the booming electric vehicle industry.

The PHEV Ram 1500 is powered by the 390 horsepower 5.7L Hemi V8 featuring Chrysler’s Multiple Displacement System (MDS) , which cuts the Hemi from 8 to 4 cylinders when cruising at highway speeds to help reduce fuel usage. The mighty Hemi is mated to a two-mode hybrid transmission, driven in part by a 12.9kWh lithium ion battery pack and a 6.6 kilowatt on-board charging system. Helping to keep the batteries charged without putting more strain on the engine, Chrysler has added directional charging, reverse power flow and full regenerative braking – furthering the fuel economy improvements over the traditional Hemi-powered Ram 1500 pickups.

The battery pack is located under the rear seats, allowing for temperature control and ease of access. In addition to using the electrical system to improve fuel economy, the PHEV Ram 1500 has a small electrical panel in the bed, offering a 240V/30 amp four-prong outlet and 120V/20amp duplex outlet for powering all sorts of items on the job.

Unfortunately for Ram lovers around the country, the PHEV Ram 1500 is not slated for production but instead is just planned to be part of a study between the Chrysler Group and the Department of Energy. However, this shows that Chrysler has the architecture and technology to offer a powerful hybrid pickup that can compete in the real world. Also, Chrysler will be producing 25 plug-in electric hybrid Town & Country minivans for similar testing in various locations around the country.

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