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Chrysler to deploy 20 Ram plug-in hybrid pickups this month; first of 140-unit test fleet

Chrysler will deliver the first 20 units of its coming 140-unit plug-in hybrid RAM pickup test truck fleet (earlier post)—10 to Clark County, Nevada and 10 to Yuma, Arizona—later this month, said Chrysler’s Abdullah A. Bazzi in his presentation at the US Department of Energy (DOE) 2011 Merit Review in Washington, DC this week. The Chrysler PHEV pickup project is a $97.4-million effort, with DOE contributing $40 million of that through Recovery Act funding. The project is due to run through June 2014.

The Ram Truck Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle is a blended plug-in hybrid, meaning that it doesn’t run exclusively all-electric during its charge depletion period. The Ram PHEV has an equivalent all-electric range of more than 20 miles (the target was 20); meets AT-PZEV emissions standards (the only full-size V8 pickup with an AT-PZEV rating); and has a charge-depleting mode fuel economy in the city of more than 32 mpg (the target was 32 mpg).

Technical approach for the Chrysler RAM PHEV. Click to enlarge.

The PHEV is equipped with a 345 hp 5.7L Hemi V8 gasoline engine; a two-mode hybrid transmission; a 12.9 kWh liquid-cooled battery pack; thermal systems; power electronics; 6.6 kW charger/inverter; 120V/240V AC power panel (6.6 kW); a J1772 charge port (Level I/II); and the controls required to run and integrate it all.

Chrysler used the standard Chrysler Group LLC Vehicle Development Process for a production intent program. It augmented the development process with modified testing procedures to address specific plug-in hybrid technologies. The resulting PHEV truck is capable of 7200 GVW & 12,100 GCWR and is capable of operating over temperatures from -20 °F to 125 °F.

Among the features Chrysler developed for the PHEV are:

  • Thermal management of Li-ion battery system capable of heating the high voltage battery in extreme cold, and cooling the high voltage battery in extreme hot ambient temperatures, optimizing the operating temperature range.

  • Powertrain control system to operate within the power limitations of the Li-ion battery over ambient temperature range of -20 °F to 125 °F while providing predictable and reliable vehicle performance.

  • Charging system capable of charging up to 7.5 kW (currently limited to 6.6 kW).

  • Inverter system to support power panel, vehicle-to-grid power flow (V2G), and micro-grid functions up to 6.6 kW.

  • PHEV systems for cold start, cold drive, EV Drive, start/stop, thermal management, battery SOC operational boundaries, torque security validation, and transmission dynamometer for E-Motor PHEV duty cycle.

AT-PZEV. Under California’s LEV-II, there are three sets of increasingly more stringent emission standards: LEV, ULEV, and SULEV. PZEV (partial zero emission vehicle) has the same test emission levels as SULEV, but also includes additional evaporative emissions control and a 150,000 mile/15 year emission durability requirement.

Chrysler has demonstrated SULEV tailpipe emissions for Charge Depleting (CD) city and highway cycles, and Charge Sustaining (CS) for city, hwy, US06,and Cold CO cycles. Based on testing with prior development test vehicles, Chrysler asserts that SULEV tailpipe emissions requirements can be met for the 50F test and SC03 cycle.

The Ram PHEV also met the PZEV evaporative emissions requirements for the Rig Test, based on the purge volume measurements during the 3 bag city cycle. Based on testing with prior development test vehicles, Chrysler asserts that the Ram PHEV can meet PZEV evaporative emission requirements for the whole vehicle SHED test, ORVR and Running loss.

Vehicle charging functionality. Click to enlarge.

Improvements to charging functionality. Part of the project will address increasing the functionality of charging.

  • For the May rollout, charging will occur with no customer input, minimal system input, and at the highest charging rate.

  • Beginning in September, Chrysler plans to add support for optimized charging—i.e., with customer input, maximum system input, at the most efficient charge rate, with data collection and reporting.

  • September will also see the implementation of a smart grid interface: a utility interface, with time of use rates, to achieve optimized charge at the lowest cost.

  • In September 2012, Chrysler will begin testing V2G, with reverse power flow, smart grid communications, micro grid development and emergency load curtailment.


(Presentations will be available online in several weeks.)

  • Abdullah A. Bazzi. Advancing Transportation Through Vehicle Electrification -PHEV (ARRAVT067)



This would almost be enough power for class-8 heavy trucks and small locomotives.


There are hybrid GM Silverado and Sierra pickups, but they are not PHEV and they the price is $40,000. If they can make this at a good price, it might be popular.


I can hear the Ram commercials now advertising this with Sam Elliot's goofy voice...

Stan Peterson

Aside from the Ram Pickup test there is something of even more significance for mass production. All of the Chrysler engines, going forward, the WGE I-4, and the PentaStar V-6, have been built and qualified as PZEV vehicles.

There was a significant exception. The Hemi V-8 has never been qualified at a level below ULEV II. Some engineers have suggested the shape of the combustion chamber precluded getting cleaner than that.

Now that obstacle has apparently been overcome.

CARB is in the process of mandating SULEV II, (T2B2 in Fed speak), as the next, new toxic emissions standard for all vehicles in California. SULEV II was created to "rate" totally clean electric cars.

It was also created to criticize Detroit; and the "impossibility" of ICE engines from ever being as clean as electric autos. The Greenie-haters were awestruck that Technology has succeeded in cleaning the ICE. ICE engines in North America have gone from dirty, to almost clean in the EU standards, to even cleaner than ambient air here in the USA, and then to absolutely, pristine, clean, as in in the forthcoming T2B2/SULEV II regulations.

Now it appears that Chrysler will have no problem meeting the pristine clean air emissions standard with all its ICE engines.

Nick Gencarelle

Why not have a small engine that charges the batteries-and allow like half of the batteries to be charged while the other half runs-have regenerative braking and shocks and solar in the roof and on the bed liner for while its sitting in the sun. Too big-too expensive for average folks the way they made it. Why also is the hydraulic assist not in every big truck now-fuel savings of like 25-40 percent-what gives?

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