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Chrysler Group Awards UM-Dearborn $3.1M to Support Development of Plug-in Hybrid System for Ram Pickup Project

Chrysler Group LLC has awarded Chris (Chunting) Mi, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, $3.1 million for his proposed, “Ram Pickup Truck PHEV Development and Demonstration Project.”

In August, Chrysler was announced as being selected for $70 million in funding from the $2.4 billion in federal grant monies awarded to accelerate the manufacturing and deployment of hybrid electric vehicles and new-generation batteries for a project to develop, validate, and deploy 220 advanced plug-in hybrid electric pickups and minivans. (Earlier post.)

I feel very excited and also fortune because we’re the only major development partner on this project, and the only university to work with an OEM on such a project. We have been working toward the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for many years—specifically in battery management, vehicle control, power electronics, and electric motors. We have also worked with Chrysler on their recent PHEV development.

—Chris Mi

Mi’s research role includes the development of a state-of-the-art power electronics laboratory for PHEV power converter, battery pack, and e-motor testing and characterization; battery management and control development; evaluation of PHEV on-road performance; charger development, testing, and validation; a power panel for battery control and charger interface; and more.

This research is an integral part of Chrysler’s overall project titled, “Advancing Transportation through Vehicle Electrification–PHEV.” UM-Dearborn is one of many partners in the projects, but a key participant in that it will conduct research and develop systems and products. Many of the other partners are municipalities around the country that will be involved more in demonstration than in research and development.

Mi’s proposal calls for a Ram Crew 1500 that is “the only plug-in hybrid truck available,” and the “only full-sized truck with advanced technology partial zero emission,” among other features. The truck would have a lithium-ion battery pack with charge times of two to four hours at 220 volts, or four to six hours at 110 volts; a full hybrid system function without plug-in; a range of 655 miles; and a regenerative braking system.

Power management will be one of the key challenges in this development? how you minimize fuel consumption for different driver behavior and different driving scenarios with a fixed battery pack. Another challenge is the safety and reliability of the vehicle system with a large, lithium-ion battery pack.

—Chris Mi

As part of this funding announced in August, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, UM-Dearborn, and Kettering University received $2.5 million to create training and education programs for green mobility.



A more advanced Dodge PHEV Sprinter 10 to 12 passenger mini-bus could be a good (shared) commuter vehicle.

With one (or more) passenger used as free drivers, the passenger trip cost and GHG foot print may be interesting.


Dodge was going to do a hybrid Durango years ago and cancelled it. Raser has a one off hybrid Hummer to demonstrate their motors and controllers, but that is just a demo. GM has a hybrid Tahoe for $50,000+ and sells few of them.

Some would say getting better mileage in a large vehicle does more to reduce fuel consumption, but I would say large vehicles not used for work are a waste to begin with. Perhaps if a RAM hybrid were used for work and got better mileage, that is something to consider.


“Ram Pickup Truck PHEV"
this is like putting lip-stick on a pig.

Stan Peterson

I have always wondered what a Parallel-series PHEV would achieve for mileage in a full size work pickup. Converting to HEV, increases mileage to the low twenties from the low teens, as the GM HEVs have shown. It would be nice to see what a diesel PHEV could achieve.

Could it get over thirty mpge?


2010 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab 4X2
4.7L V8 310 HP 14 / 19 mpg
Curb Weight AT 5064

I doubt that many real world users get 14 mpg around town.
If they got 13 mpg and could get 20 mpg with hybrid, that would be something.

To get even better mileage, the truck would have to downsize from a V8 to a V6 and have a larger motor and battery pack, but getting 30 around town would be tough with all that weight.

Will S

Chrysler management still doesn't get it and it will spell the end of them. No more bailouts for these idiots. They've been going in the wrong direction for so long with respect to America's energy security that I've given up any hope that they will be any net benefit whatsoever to this country.


There has been interest in Rasor's pickup retrofit, where a large motor is put between the transmission and drive shaft. This was an idea I had years ago, but I did not think that owners would retrofit their trucks to go from 13 to 19 mpg around town in sufficient numbers to make it profitable.

Stan Peterson

Will s.

There is a reasonable need for vehicles called trucks. Despite your wishes, you can't do all the things a truck is needed to do, in an electric micro city-car.

To the degree that they can achieve improvements in fuel usage via PHEV hybridization and/or diesel use, that is something to be sought. Chrysler is after all a truck company, that also builds a few cars.

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