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Plug-in Hybrid Rams arrive in Arizona this week

by Bill Cawthon on is reporting that Chrysler and the U.S. Department of Energy will begin testing the first of 140 Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric pickup trucks in the heat of a Yuma, Arizona summer where July high temperatures average more than 107 degrees. The trucks are part of a $100 million joint research project funded by Chrysler and the DOE. The project dates back to May 2009, when then-Cerberus-owned Chrysler LLC submitted a $348 million plan, including plug-in-hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), to the Department of Energy. The program kicks off this week with the deliveries to Yuma. By the end of this year, entire fleet will be undergoing testing around the country to evaluate their suitability in real-world driving conditions. The program runs through June 2014.

The Ram PHEV is equipped with a 345-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, a modified General Motors two-mode hybrid transmission and a 12.9-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. It has an equivalent all-electric range of more than 20 miles and its total range is estimated to be up to 655 miles with a full 26-gallon tank of gas. Even as a hybrid the Ram can still do the job: it’s rated for 1,000 pounds of payload and its towing capacity is 6,000 pounds.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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