Ram Brand delivers Hemi Hybrids for Commercial Use

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by Patrick Rall

The Ram Truck Brand has officially delivered the first group of new PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Ram 1500 pickups to the municipal services of Yuma, Arizona.  These 10 unique trucks are the first of 140 Hybrid Hemi Rams slated for delivery to various municipalities, military locations and commercial use sites around the United States for part of a 3-year field test to see how this technology performs in the real world.

The Ram 1500 PHEV units are powered by the mighty 5.7L Hemi – churning
out 390 horsepower and 407lb-ft of torque – making it one of the most
powerful half ton pickups on the market.  Thanks to Chrysler’s Multiple
Displacement System (MDS) shutting down 4 of the 8 cylinders when full
power isn’t needed, the Hemi is also one of the more fuel efficient
motors, offering 14mpg around town and 20mpg on the open road. 

PHEV Rams are also equipped with a two-mode hybrid transmission mated
to a 12.9kWhr lithium ion battery pack with the power levels of the
battery system bolstered by directional charging, reverse power flow and
full regenerative braking along with a traditional onboard 6.6kW
charger.  The final piece of fuel saving technology applied to the PHEV
Ram pickups is a front axle disconnect feature that prevents the Ram
from having to work hard to drive extra components when 4WD is not

The battery pack for the Ram 1500 PHEV is located under the second row
of seats (all of these vehicles are 4-door models) with a liquid cooling
system traveling to the batteries to help maintain a consistent
temperature during use.  Considering that these are work trucks and they
have a powerful electrical system, Chrysler engineers even installed a
240 volt/30 amp four-prong outlet and a 120volt/20amp duplex outlet
strip in the bed for easy use of power tools on the job site.

Sadly, Chrysler points out that at this time there are no plans to offer
a production version of the Ram 1500 PHEV to the consumer market.  They
refer to this as a “demonstration program”, working in conjunction with
the US Dept of Energy to examine the real world performance of this
hybrid system under the rigors of commercial use.  This three-year
program will give the Dept of Energy and the Chrysler Group a chance to
closely look at issues like customer usage, drive cycles, charging
issues, the impact of varying temperature controls, fuel economy,
emissions and impact on the region’s electric grid – although it seems
unlikely to me that 10 PHEV Rams in the Yuma area will have any noticeable
impact on their electric grid.  But that is the kind of thing that this
program will examine.  There are a total of 12 locations around the US
receiving these fuel-sipping Hemi Rams, including various locations in
Arizona, North Dakota, Massachusetts, Hawaii, California, Texas and

Chrysler also plans to introduce 25 Town & Country minivans later
this year with a similar hybrid setup with the locations and benefactors
of those vehicles being announced closer to their debut.

(Click here to join the PHEV conversation at DodgeForum.com!)

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