AUBURN HILLS, MI – Chrysler Group LLC said it will supply DTE Energy with 10 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles as part of a demonstration project.

Chrysler Group, working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), will deliver 10 demonstration fleet Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) pickup trucks to DTE Energy of Detroit. The PHEV Ram 1500 pickups are part of a national demonstration fleet of 140 vehicles that will be used during the next three years to evaluate customer usage, drive cycles, charging, thermal management, fuel economy, emissions and impact on the region's electric grid. 

In addition to DTE Energy of Detroit, 16 different cities have received more than 100 vehicles in the past six months.

"Cities have been carefully selected to help the Chrysler Group LLC collect a wide range of data," explained Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of Chrysler's advanced hybrid vehicle project. "Working with a local energy partner like DTE that is in our backyard offers a great combination of suburban and rural driving, as well as ever-changing Michigan weather, and is ideal as a test cycle for these vehicles. The constant charging will allow us to measure the impact on battery life and charging efficiency."

Chrysler Group began delivering Ram 1500 PHEV trucks to the city of Yuma, Ariz., in May 2011 to take full advantage of hot weather and conduct thermal testing in the desert Southwest. Other cities that have received the demonstration Ram 1500 pickups include San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Boston, Mass.; and Albany, N.Y. Just recently, the New York Police Department also took delivery of five PHEV Ram 1500 PHEV trucks.

"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, DTE Energy vice president of marketing and renewables. "We'll be using the trucks at our service centers and in the field at our renewable energy facilities."

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

Cities and states in the demonstration project were selected to evaluate temperature extremes, urban traffic cycles and diverse climates and geographies. 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 a fuel-saver 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.

Urban use 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.

Part of the program’s funding comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Transportation Electrification Initiative, sponsored by the Department of Energy. The funding includes $48 million from DOE and $49.4 million from Chrysler Group.

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