More Ram Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles Hit the Streets

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by Patrick Rall

Recently, the Chrysler Group made its second and third deliveries of small fleets of Ram Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) to two cities in California as a portion of their deal with the US Department of Energy.  The first delivery was earlier this year with 10 Ram 1500 PHEVs being delivered to the municipal services of Yuma, Arizona. This time, the second and third deliveries have been made to San Francisco and Sacramento with each of the large Cali cities receiving 14 hybrid Ram pickups of their own.

The municipal services of San Francisco and Sacramento each received
delivery of 14 plug-in hybrid Ram 1500 pickups as part of
a study organized by the Chrysler Group and funded in part by the US
Department of Energy
.  The government bodies will spend the next three
years driving these specially built hybrid Ram 1500 pickups, reporting
back to the Chrysler Group engineers with all sorts of impressions and
questions on driving and charging these unique Ram trucks.  Sadly, the
Chrysler Group has repeatedly stated that there is no plan to offer
these plug-in hybrid Ram 1500s to the general public, but instead they
are using these 140 total trucks to study the effects of real world,
commercial usage on the hybrid system in these Rams.

The Ram 1500 PHEV is powered by a 5.7L Hemi V8 mated to a two mode
hybrid transmission system powered by a 12.9kWh lithium ion battery pack
and supported by a 6.6KW on board charging system.  The Hemi sends 390
horsepower to all four wheels via a transfer case that includes a front
axle disconnect feature and to further improve the fuel economy of the
Ram PHEV; Chrysler’s Multiple Displacement System (MDS) shuts down four
cylinders when cruising on the highway.  The Hemi alone is one of the
most fuel efficient V8 engines on the truck market thanks to the MDS, but
when adding the dual mode hybrid transmission, the Ram PHEV should be
the most fuel efficient truck that isn’t available on the commercial

The problem is that today’s most popular hybrid vehicles are made for
optimized fuel economy – not to deal with the wear and tear of
commercial abuse.  Municipalities put serious miles on their vehicles
through some of the worst conditions all year long, so this study should
help to show just how much a dual mode hybrid system like the one
fitted into the Ram 1500 PHEV is really worth.  If those using these
special trucks over the next three years find that the abuse of
commercial use is too much on the system, or that with the heavier
workloads the hybrid system does not provide enough fuel economy gains
to offset the cost, it could help the Chrysler Group decide whether or
not to offer more of these trucks in the near future.

What do you think of the idea of the Ram 1500 going electric? Voice your opinion here!

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