Government Fleet Top News

Yuma Testing Plug-in Hybrid Ram 1500 Trucks

May 25, 2011

YUMA, AZ – The City of Yuma received 10 Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid-electric (PHEV) pickup trucks as part of a partnership with Chrysler Group LLC and the U.S. Department of Energy.

During the next three years, City employees will drive these vehicles as they normally would for City-related work. Part of the test is to evaluate how the vehicles perform in Arizona’s summer heat. The City is responsible for routine maintenance, such as oil changes, during the vehicles' 3-year stay in Yuma.

"This is another opportunity to showcase that the City of Yuma is willing to try and accept new technologies," said City of Yuma Fleet Manager Charlie Caudill. "We've used hybrids in our fleet since 2001." Previous to that, the City tested experimental vehicles in the early 1990s.

According to Chrysler, the Ram 1500 PHEV includes a liquid-cooled 12.9kWhr lithium ion battery pack and a 6.6 kilowatt (kW) on-board charger. The powertrain includes a 5.7L HEMI V-8 engine and a two-mode hybrid transmission.

The PHEV is expected to travel up to 40 miles on electricity alone, before it requires fuel. The 390-horsepower Hemi is equipped with a Multiple Displacement System that improves fuel efficiency at highway speeds by shutting down fuel delivery to up to four cylinders. When the driver needs extra power, the electric and gas engines run together to deliver approximately 500 horsepower.

Additional features include AC power generation of up to 6.6kW; directional charging; reverse power flow and full regenerative braking used to capture more energy. For fuel economy improvements, the front axle can be disconnected when not needed.

The battery pack is located under the second-row seat of the pickup and is liquid-cooled to help maintain a consistent battery temperature. For on-the-job electrical power tools, a 240-volt/30-amp four-prong outlet and 120-volt/20-amp duplex outlet power strip is located in the rear box.

Chrysler will track urban and rural use to measure battery performance and overall hybrid efficiency with the demonstration fleet of pickups. One other interesting use of this fleet includes testing on military bases, where vehicles will be able to provide power back to the electric grid in what is termed "reverse power flow" of up to 6.6kW.

Chrysler stated this is strictly a demonstration program and that there are no plans for a production version of the PHEV Ram 1500 truck at this time.

"There's a match here between our needs and Chrysler's needs," said City Administrator Greg Wilkinson. "We're obviously excited to get to test these vehicles to supplement our existing fleet, and to get them at a time when funding in the budget to get new vehicles has been tight."

Caudill said he hopes the vehicles will provide a 50- to 60-percent increase in fuel efficiency over vehicles currently used for their assigned purposes.

The Yuma Police Department will use 8 vehicles in its Patrol division. The other 2 will be used by the Utilities Department for customer service, such as water hookups, shutdowns, and meter reading.

"Part of the DOE requirement is that these vehicles must be driven 16,800 miles per year while they're here," Caudill said.

Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of the Chrysler Group's advanced hybrid vehicle project, delivered the 10 PHEV pickups. Yuma’s news release said Chrysler will collect data from City truck usage via satellite and use that data to evaluate customer usage, drive cycles, charging, thermal management, fuel economy, emissions and impact on the region's electric grid.

Yuma is one of 12 partner agencies in the United States to receive PHEV's, which are part of a national demonstration fleet of 140 vehicles that will be tested in areas with a range of circumstances. Chrysler selected locations to evaluate temperature extremes, urban traffic cycles, and diverse climates and geographies. Other partner Cities will include San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif.; Austin, Texas and Kansas City, Mo. Chrysler will also deliver test vehicles in North Dakota, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Arizona.

Funding for the entire demonstration program for all 140 vehicles is provided in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Department of Energy's Transportation Electrification Initiative and includes $48 million in funds from DOE and $49.4 million from Chrysler Group.

Chrysler is also developing a similar fleet of 25 Town & Country minivans with plug-in hybrid technology for demonstration and evaluation that will be allocated to select cities later this year.

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