Chrysler and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are organizing a national demonstration program for a plug-in version of the Dodge Ram truck. This program already enlisted the assistance of Yuma County, Central Hudson Gas & Electric and four municipal governments. The purpose of the Ram 1500 PHEV trial is to determine not only the viability of the vehicle but the limitations of fleet EV operation in America. The latest participant in the Ram PHEV trial is Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). This regional transit body will incorporate 10 RAM 1500 PHEVs into their facilities and maintenance fleets over the next year.
This demonstration program was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The DOE’s Transportation Electrification Initiative issued $48 million in grants to Chrysler for development of a plug-in passenger vehicle. The goal of the Transportation Electrification Initiative is to develop green methods of transportation that reduce dependence on foreign oil and negative environmental impacts. Chrysler added $49.4 million for the Ram 1500 PHEV project to design and produce the demo vehicles as well as market the project to public officials. This program will be replicated by Chrysler in the next few years as the automaker develops a plug-in version of the Town & Country minivan.
The Ram 1500 PHEV operates with a 12.9kWh lithium-ion battery as well as a 5.7-liter engine. The gas engine uses the automaker’s Fuel Saver feature, which reduces fuel consumption at high speeds by restricting operation for up to half the cylinders. Chrysler incorporated new features like recuperative braking and liquid cooling for the battery to extend vehicle range. This pickup truck features a 6.6kW battery charger with a reverse flow feature that can power tools and generators on job sites. Drivers can access a 240-volt outlet with four prongs for power in remote locations.
MBTA provides another terrain for Chrysler’s 140-vehicle fleet to traverse during this project. Maintenance workers at MBTA travel through snow storms, thunder, wind and a wide range of temperatures. This portion of the demo project will be critical to the future development of the Ram 1500 PHEV. The Dodge Ram 1500 competes in a market sector where toughness, durability and all-weather performance are critical. Chrysler has no plans at present to produce the Ram 1500 PHEV but the plug-in technology could be introduced in future vehicles.