Chrysler Delivers Plug-in Minivan Test Fleet

Chrysler town and country
It's been awhile since we've heard any electric-car news from Chrysler; its ENVI electric car division dissolved when bankruptcy struck the company in 2009. It looks like an alternative-fuel program is back in the form of a fleet of plug-in hybrid Town & Country minivans.

Eight hybrid vans were delivered to Duke Energy in Charlotte, N.C., as part of a two-year test program. Employees of the electric power holding company will drive the vans during a two-year study to gauge how the technology performs in a minivan during real-world driving conditions. The automaker is working with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a total of 25 test units. The city of Auburn Hills, Mich., is also testing four of the vehicles during the next two years.

"Chrysler is looking forward to the two years of real-world data that will be obtained. Such data will enable Chrysler engineers to assess the viability of the technology for future applications," Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of the Chrysler Group's advanced hybrid vehicle project, said in a statement.

Power for the plug-in hybrid van comes from Chrysler's 3.6-liter V-6 engine paired with a two-mode hybrid transmission. It's augmented by a 12.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. Combined, the pair makes 290 horsepower. Chrysler lists a range of 700 miles and says charging times are two to four hours on a Level 2 220-volt charge unit and eight to 15 hours if using a 110-volt Level 1 charge outlet.

Though no production plans have been announced, Chrysler is also evaluating a fleet of plug-in hybrid Ram pickup trucks.

Comments 

Rick

Enough of this electric crap. We need hydrogen to power the future. It's unbelievably clean compared to the coal burning plants where we get our electricity. I believe more focus has to be on the cleanest and most powerful forms of energy.
Anyone else have any thoughts?

Rich

From what I understand about hydrogen, it currently takes more power to create the hydrogen fuel than the fuel it produces. In other words, not efficient yet. Also, it is not cost-effective yet. $100k for a car that should be $30k.

I agree that we need cleaner resources but just not sure hydrogen is ready for prime time yet.

Mike

I would worry about crash protection with hydrogen. There is the explosion factor to think about. BMW has a hydrogen 7-series so maybe it's already in development.

Zerf

Back in the Bush-era he was pushing his energy program with Hydrogen power showing a Chevy Equinox running on hydrogen. I remember all the criticism he took at the time for the reason Rich states, takes too much energy to create the hydrogen fuel. I do remember the vehicles driving like we are use to but with clean emissions. We are going to need a pretty big break through to produce the hydrogen fuel before this has a chance.

I personally don't think the electric cars are out of the running. The worst case customers don't have to charge their cars off coal, many are having solar installed on their houses. Many areas of the country get their energy from cleaner sources. With advancements in solar technology at home there is a lot of clean energy available.

WTF

The current basis is to use gasoline as the hydrogen source with a reformer converting it to the proper form to be used by the fuel cell.

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