Three plug-in hybrid-electric Chrysler Town & Country minivans went into service with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), bringing to 25 the total number of such vehicles on American roads.
The plug-in hybrids will be subjected to “temperature extremes and variations of drive cycles,” said Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of Chrysler Group’s advanced hybrid vehicle project, adding resulting data will shed light on customer acceptance of the technology and its impact on the grid.
Other deployments are in Arizona, North Carolina and Michigan.
Two additional plug-in hybrid minivans will be retained by Chrysler Group engineers. One of those vehicles will be subject to a short-duration test by Argonne National Laboratory.
The two-year project stems from Chrysler Group’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Chrysler is investing $15.8 million into the project and the U.S. Department of Energy is contributing $10 million.
Each plug-in hybrid Town & Country is equipped with an E85-compatible 3.6L Pentastar engine mated to a front-wheel-drive, two-mode hybrid transmission.
It also is powered by a liquid-cooled 12.1 KWhr lithium-ion battery that affords a total output of 290 horsepower and a range of 700-miles. Charge times are two-to-four hours at 220 volts with a “Level 2” charge cord unit, and eight-to-15 hours at 110 volts with a “Level 1” charge unit.