OK, so these really may be the world's coolest minivans.

Chrysler has deployed four plug-in hybrid-electric Town & Country minivans to the city of Auburn Hills, MI as part of a $26-million demonstration project. Chrylser says it plans for each minivan to rack up 16,800 miles during the two-year program. In all, Chrysler will make 25 minivan plug-ins and spend $15.8 million on the project, with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) chipping in another $10 million. No word on if or when the plug-in minivans will be sold to the public.

Last year, Chrysler started deploying the first of 140 Ram plug-in hybrid-electric pickup trucks as a way for the automaker and the U.S. government to explore more fuel-efficient alternatives for gas-guzzling trucks. Chrysler and the DOE split the $97 million bill on that project as well.
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City of Auburn Hills Receives Four Plug-in Hybrid Chrysler Town & Country Minivans from Chrysler Group LLC as Part of Two-Year Demonstration Project
April 12, 2012 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - The City of Auburn Hills, a dynamic community committed to innovation and growth, took delivery today of four Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Chrysler Town & Country minivans from Chrysler Group LLC as part of a two-year demonstration project that is a partnership between Chrysler Group and the U.S. Department of Energy. Chrysler is investing $15.8 million into the project and the U.S. Department of Energy is contributing $10 million. Only 25 test vehicles will be created, according to Abdullah A. Bazzi, Senior Manager of Electrified Power Train Programs for Chrysler Group.

"This Town & Country minivan is the only minivan to boast a plug-in hybrid powertrain in combination with flex fuel capability," says Bazzi. "We're pleased to have four of these 25 vehicles being tested right here in Chrysler's backyard where they can get real-world use and be evaluated promptly."

Auburn Hills will use the Chrysler-owned vehicles for testing purposes to evaluate everyday city and highway driving. Staff selected to evaluate the vehicles will regularly report all driving and charging experiences back to Chrysler. City Manager Pete Auger says it is an honor for the City to participate in this demonstration project.

"Chrysler has been an outstanding corporate citizen of Auburn Hills and we are privileged to be participating in the evaluation of these vehicles," says Auger.

As part of the program, each vehicle will receive one Level II EVSE charging station, which will be installed at the Civic Center Campus on North Squirrel and the Auburn Hills Department of Public Services Building on Brown Road. Installation costs for the charging stations will be borne by the City and will remain at the City following project completion.

The agreement between Chrysler Group and the City anticipates approximately 16,800 miles will be driven on each demonstration vehicle. Routine maintenance such as oil changes will be the responsibility of the City. Chrysler will be responsible for any repairs that may be required as part of the testing process. Auger notes that employees assigned the vehicles have been recognized for their outstanding work efforts.

"When you see these specially marked Chrysler minivans on the road, you can be assured that they are being driven by City of Auburn Hills employees who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to their jobs, the residents and the entire Auburn Hills community," affirms Auger.

In July 2011, Auburn Hills became the first municipality in Michigan to adopt an electric vehicle infrastructure ordinance to facilitate the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. The ordinance sets the stage for the City to become a leader in incorporating electric vehicles into its community and economic development plans. In October 2011, Chrysler Group LLC delivered four PHEV Ram 1500 pickup trucks to the City of Auburn Hills as part of a national, three year demonstration program for evaluation and testing of the trucks by the City's Community Development, Police and Public Services Departments.

About Auburn Hills
Auburn Hills, a dynamic community committed to innovation and growth, is home to 21,000 residents and also serves as Michigan's global business address, with 40 international corporations from 32 countries housed here, including Chrysler Group LLC and Borg Warner headquarters. Auburn Hills' residents enjoy the amenities of city and suburban living with parks, a revitalized downtown district and a welcoming city complex with a library and community center. Additionally, the city has five colleges and universities, the award winning Palace of Auburn Hills entertainment complex and Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, one of the state's largest destination shopping centers, providing a variety of cultural, social and educational opportunities to residents, workers and visitors. Learn more at
www.auburnhills.org.

About Chrysler Group LLC
Chrysler Group LLC, formed in 2009 to establish a global strategic alliance with Fiat S.p.A., produces Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Mopar, SRT and Fiat vehicles and products. With the resources, technology and worldwide distribution network required to compete on a global scale, the alliance builds on Chrysler Group's culture of innovation, first established by Walter P. Chrysler in 1925, and Fiat's complementary technology that dates back to its founding in 1899.

Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., Chrysler Group's product lineup features some of the world's most recognizable vehicles, including the Chrysler 300 and Town & Country, Jeep Wrangler, all-new Dodge Dart, Ram 1500, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and Fiat 500. Fiat contributes world-class technology, platforms and powertrains for small- and medium-size cars, allowing Chrysler Group to offer an expanded product line including environmentally friendly vehicles. www.chryslergroupllc.com


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 30 Comments
      RJohns
      • 3 Years Ago
      OK Toyota, your Sienna owners (current and future) are waiting...how about some sort of update/leak? First to market wins the "Pentup Demand" award!
      paulwesterberg
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow only $1m per vehicle. Sure there are some people who need energy efficient transportation options in a minivan sized vehicle, but I think that Toyota, Tesla, are much closer to producing a vehicle that people can actually afford to buy.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Does your brain hurt when you intentionally distort reality like that? The program funding covers more than just the vehicles themselves, obviously.
        JakeY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        The press release says it includes the cost of the EVSE plus any possible repairs to the car necessary to keep the program running (the city pays for the installation and basic car maintenance like oil changes). Plus it also reflects the entire R&D cost to Chrysler (cars from Toyota & Tesla amortize those costs over more cars). I doubt each car actually cost $1 million to make.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's a lot of money for a company to invest in, considering they barely have the $ to upgrade their internal combustion engines. ....ahhh... DoE money is involved.. lol
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        You are unpopular when you go full on libertarian....
        fred schumacher
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        All Chrysler engines have been upgraded and new ones have been added from Fiat, which is a leader in small engine technology and is the inventor of common-rail fuel injection which is now nearly universal in diesel engines. For the past year, I have been keeping track of fuel use as it correlates to average miles per hour between fill ups on my 2000 Grand Caravan. It's quite remarkable how linear the graph is between an average speed of 17 mph (all city street driving) and 50 mph (mostly highway driving). At city street driving, I average 17 mpg; at 35 mph (mixed driving), I average 21 mpg; at 50 mph, I average 24 mpg. On the open highway, with no stopping, I can get between 25 and 28, depending on terrain and wind. What this data indicates is that energy recovery in city street, stop-start driving will have the greatest impact on fuel economy. A PHEV minivan should show significant mpg improvement for urban use.
      MTN RANGER
      • 3 Years Ago
      I want to know the technical details - what size battery, hybrid system, MPC, etc! I am clamoring for someone other than Mitsubishi (with their Outlook PHEV) to come out with a MPV/CUV EV or PHEV. I would get one in a heartbeat to compliment my Volt.
        MTN RANGER
        • 3 Years Ago
        @MTN RANGER
        oops, Outlook = Outlander
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @MTN RANGER
        "Each plug-in hybrid minivans 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-fifteen hours at 110 volts with a “Level 1″ charge unit." Don't forget that Chrysler is part of the USABC, an advanced battery consortium so they do have access to good battery tech. The two-mode hybrid was also developed in conjunction with other companies like GM and BMW. Third - Chrysler withdrew their application for a DoE ATVM loan, based on the DoE's inability to make a decision in a reasonable amount of time.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          "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. " 700 miles on 12.1KWH. Now THAT is impressive. ;-)
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I'm assuming they mean *total* range = ICE + battery range...
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think these 'demonstration projects' are merely ways to help Chrysler fund development of their next generation of vehicles. A stealth bail-out. At least I hope that is what they are for. The Volt already proved PHEVs can be made. Chrysler needs to start cranking out a PHEV mini-van offered for sale. That would be a GREAT efficient soccer-mom vehicle.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Mazda gets 29 combined on their new SUV, and ford gets good (for the segment) mpg with Eco boost models, so a mini-van has great potential. Maybe a smidgen more 'mini', a simple plug in version (by simple I am thinking Toyota's system or ford's energi, opposed to the volt system), and why not mid-30's? I don't think that is too wild a thought...
          fred schumacher
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          My 1993 Dodge Caravan with 2.5 liter and 5-speed manual averaged 29.5 mpg overall over the time I drove it (measured and calibrated). With a modern engine in that old van, I would think I could average 35 mpg. But today's vans weigh 1,000 pounds more than my old one.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Weight has just gone up insanely....
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Here's a 2009 example of a Ford soccer-mom vehicle with a plug: http://www.microturbine.com/news/video/view.asp?video=whisper
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      Me sending in tips....stories appearing....coincidence.....?
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        they don't credit tips anymore.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          Hmmmmm, they print provocative stories to make us scream at each other, but not tip ideas. Nice. Ironically, I never try to (well, rarely) send Sebastian type stories. Just ones on vehicles and new tech. Some, I know, would get people to screaming, but I figure why encourage....? I did send one in on oil company profits, but that was my only slip up (and, the only one not printed on either).
      • 3 Years Ago
      Where do I sign up? I seriously considered a minivan before buying my current CUV, and I've love a plugin minivan. I bought the CUV because it was cheaper than the minvans with the features we wanted, and because I don't haul enough people to justify the extra seats. For new-car money, I'd be happy to buy a plugin minivan, and drive it for the next 20 years. If such a vehicle had a 40-mile electric range, it would likely meet all of my foreseeable needs. All it needs is kid-friendly seats, a trailer hitch (electric range can suffer when I'm towing), and an infotainment system that I can upgrade to keep up with the times. I'd happily give up the stow-and-go seats for plugin hybridness.
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      Who is running these things? The DoE could give Crystler $20,000 for R&D and components to produce and sell 500 mini-vans at ICE prices, then with the $$$ plug-in tax credit, it would be under the price and people would buy them. Not that they would need to give them $20,000 per mini-van or anything to offset the higher cost of plug-in's... The US government and the car makers need to look at why the Prius is now better than the Corolla and how Toyota did it... plus, they actually have sold a lot of Piri, like a car company is supposed to.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        Ironically, Toyota created the Prius in response to a Clinton era US government program that developed hybrid engine technology. The American car companies were too stupid to see the future even though it had been gift-wrapped and handed to them.
        marcopolo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        @Ryan, $20,000 ! Wow, tell you what, I'll give you $20,000 and you can tell me how Chrysler can do it? It took billions for Toyota to produce the Prius, and even after all these years it's still more expensive than the equivalent ICE. I'm a great Prius fan, but new technology is expensive, even modifications to existing technology is expensive when you are attempting mass production.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      video or it didn't happen
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      here's a video from 2008 where Chrysler promises an EV in showrooms by 2010 http://video.answers.com/chrysler-electric-vehicles-259711415
      Robyn
      • 3 Years Ago
      Want to start making some extra incomé every month? You can... For more information, visit following website http://www.LazyCash39.com .....Your extra incomé is just a click away... Don't miss it
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