The plug-in hybrid minivan, due in 2016 or 2017, has already been touted by Chrysler as a world first, though Toyota still has time to push out a Sienna (as Land Rover snagged the first nine-speed automatic).  It’s unlikely to be Chrysler‘s last hybrid, though.

Ram Hybrid

The company made numerous plug-in hybrid pickups in a joint project with the Department of Energy, but most pickup buyers seem dismissive of hybrids; Ford and Toyota will, most likely, be the first out of the gate selling those at retail.

FCA US does need to boost its fleet economy ratings, though, and prepare for a possible, if unpredicted, uptick in fuel costs. There have been rumors of movement within Auburn Hills on a modular setup, to be used in the minivan first, which would be optional in a wider variety of cars and possibly trucks, after a first Town & Country test. The system most likely uses Chrysler’s experience in making oddly sized battery packs from its GEM days, before joining Cerberus or Fiat.

The only hybrids sold by Dodge and Chrysler at retail were sales failures; they were used in the Durango and Aspen, and were part of a GM-BMW-DCX joint project led by GM.

Most likely, a flood of hybrids will not take place until 2018-2019, when the minivans have been on the road for a while and both quality issues and customer reactions have been addressed. That would put them in place shortly before economists figure fuel prices may start to rise again.