Chrysler and the U.S. Department of Energy are set to deliver the first 10 Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric pickup trucks to Yuma, Ariz., next week — the week of May 23 — to test in the region's extreme summer climate.
The plug-in Rams are part of a $100 million joint research project funded by Chrysler and the DOE. One-hundred-forty plug-in hybrid Rams will be placed around the country before the end of his year to demonstrate their usability and viability in real-world driving conditions and in temperatures ranging from minus 25 degrees to 125 degrees.
The powertratin uses a 345-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, a modified two-mode hybrid transmission (manufactured by GM) and a 12.9-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery.
For reference, you can picture the plug-in Ram as being similar to the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 two-mode hybrid, but with a much bigger battery pack, larger electric-driving operating ranges and the ability to recharge its batteries using the Hemi or 110-volt/220-volt power sources.
The Ram plug-in is not a range-extended hybrid like the Chevy Volt, which uses a small gas engine primarily as a generator when the battery charge drops below a certain level.
Chrysler says the PHEV Ram has an equivalent all-electric range of more than 20 miles, and it overachieved its fuel economy target of 32 mpg after depleting the battery's charge. It can travel up to 655 miles with a full 26-gallon tank of gas. Towing capacity is rated up to 6,000 pounds, and payload is rated to 1,000 pounds.
The PHEV Ram program runs through June 2014. It will also demonstrate recharging the vehicles with customer input to obtain the most efficient charge rate, interfacing with power utilities via a so-called "smart-grid" and reverse power flow, where the trucks will act as generators to provide power back to the grid.
Closeup of the PHEV Ram's recharging port.
[Sources: Chrysler, U.S. Department of Energy]