AUBURN HILLS, MI -- Chrysler Group LLC, working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), this month delivered 28 demonstration fleet Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) pickup trucks to officials in San Francisco and Sacramento.

Chrysler Ram 1500 PHEV

Chrysler Ram 1500 PHEV

Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of the Chrysler Group’s advanced hybrid vehicle project, delivered 14 trucks to the city of Sacramento and 14 trucks to the city San Francisco. The trucks are part of a national demonstration fleet of 140 vehicles that will be used during the next three years. These vehicles will help to evaluate customer usage, drive cycles, charging, thermal management, fuel economy, emissions and impact on the region’s electric grid. In addition to San Francisco and Sacramento, 10 other partners across the United States will receive vehicles for demonstration and testing purposes.

Earlier this year, Chrysler Group LLC delivered 10 Ram 1500 PHEV trucks to the city of Yuma, Ariz., to take full advantage of hot weather and conduct thermal testing in the desert Southwest.

This is strictly a demonstration program, Chrysler said. There are no plans for a production version of the PHEV Ram 1500 truck at this time.

Cities and states were selected to evaluate temperature extremes, urban traffic cycles and diverse climates and geographies from North Dakota, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Arizona. California cities include San Francisco and Sacramento. 

The Ram 1500 PHEV includes a liquid-cooled 12.9kWhr lithium-ion battery pack and a 6.6-kilowatt (kW) on-board charger. Additional features include AC power generation of up to 6.6kW, directional charging, reverse power flow and full regenerative braking used to capture more energy. 

For fuel economy improvements, the front axle of the four-wheel-drive automatic transmission can be disconnected when not needed. The powertrain also includes a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine and a two-mode hybrid transmission. The 5.7-liter Hemi is equipped with technology that improves fuel efficiency at highway speeds by shutting down fuel delivery to up to four cylinders.

The battery pack is located under the second-row seat of the pickup and is liquid-cooled to help maintain a consistent battery temperature. For on-the-job electrical power tools, a 240 volt/30 amp four-prong outlet and 120-volt/20-amp duplex outlet power strip is located in the rear box. 

“Cities have been carefully selected to help the Chrysler Group LLC collect a wide range of data,” explained Bazzi. “Both San Francisco and Sacramento offer heavy traffic and urban driving that are ideal city test cycles. The constant charging will allow us to measure the impact on battery life and charging efficiency.”The choice of a Ram 1500 pickup truck was based upon two-speed transmission technology that was readily available.

Urban use also will be tracked to measure battery performance and overall hybrid efficiency with the demonstration fleet of pickups. Other uses include military bases where vehicles will be able to provide power back to the electric grid in what is termed “reverse power flow” of up to 6.6kW.

Funding for the program in part is provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Transportation Electrification Initiative sponsored by the DOE. The grant, totaling $48 million from DOE and $49.4 million from Chrysler Group LLC, was designed to develop vehicles that will be cost-efficient for consumers, satisfy safety concerns of daily travel without recharging, and help reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The Chrysler Group LLC also is developing a similar fleet of 25 Town & Country minivans with plug-in hybrid technology for demonstration and evaluation. They will be allocated to select cities later this year.