Chrysler's plug-in hybrid-electric minivan project is taking another baby step toward production by entering its second phase. Three PHEV Chrysler Town & Country vans have been delivered to the Sacramento Municipal Utitly District, where they will hit the open road and help with the data collection process.
The PHEV Chrysler Town & Country minivans will be evaluated on real-world performance, meaning that each one will be subjected to "temperature extremes and variations of drive cycles," said Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of Chrysler Group’s advanced hybrid vehicle project. The data collected will help Chrysler get a better idea on customer acceptance of the technology and its impact on the grid.
A total of 25 PHEV Town & Country minivans are now in service, spread throughout Arizona, North Carolina, and Michigan. Each front-drive minivan is powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar engine that's paired with a two-mode hybrid transmission that also works in combination with a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery to crank out 290 hp. Range is said to be 700 miles, and the minivans can be charged in as little as two to four hours with a 220-volt Level 2 charge cord or eight to 15 hours with a 110-volt Level 1 charge cord.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has invested $10 million to help with the two-year minivan project, while Chrysler continues to work on its fleet of plug-in hybrid Ram pickups (pictured below). While the Chrysler PHEV Town & Country remains in a testing phase,the two-row Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid is set to reach U.S. dealerships later this year. When asked if a larger and family-friendly PHEV was being considered, Ford — along with GM — had no comment on whether a full-size crossover or minivan PHEV competitor would make sense for their brands.