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Chrysler to supply Duke Energy with Ram hybrids

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler will deliver ten Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) pickup trucks to Duke Energy of Charlotte, N.C., this week.

The PHEV Ram 1500s 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.

“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. “Charlotte offers heavy traffic and urban driving that are ideal city test cycles along and rural areas that include inclines on mountain grades. The constant charging will allow us to measure the impact on battery life and charging efficiency.”

Duke is the first commercial delivery for the Ram PHEV. Earlier this year, Chrysler Ram PHEV trucks to Yuma, Arizona as well as San Francisco and Sacramento, California.

“Duke Energy is pleased to have the opportunity to take part in this demonstration program with Chrysler LLC and the U.S. Department of Energy,” said Jim Stanley, Duke Energy’s senior vice president of power delivery. “The information from Duke Energy provided to both Chrysler and the Department of Energy will help shape product development within the automotive industry and electric utility programs and infrastructure that could lead to more of these vehicles in the future.”

Strictly a demonstration program, there are no plans for a production version of the PHEV Ram 1500 truck at this time. Funding for the program in part is provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Transportation Electrification Initiative sponsored by the Department of Energy. The grant, totaling $48 million from DOE and $49.4 million from Chrysler Group LLC, was designed to develop vehicles that will be cost efficient for consumers, satisfy safety concerns of daily travel without recharging and help reduce dependence on foreign oil. Chrysler is also developing a similar fleet of 25 Chrysler Town & Country minivans with plug-in hybrid technology for demonstration and evaluation that will be allocated to select cities later this year.

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 just-auto.com, 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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