• Sep 26, 2012
Chrysler hasn't exactly been in a leadership role when it comes to, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Disbanding the ENVI group in 2009 sure didn't help. Plug-in vehicle development continued, though, but the company's PHEV's are now facing another obstacle: overheating. Fortunately, this hasn't meant battery fires, but the overheated battery systems mean that Chrysler is temporarily pulling 109 trucks and 23 minivans out of a fleet testing program.

Three of the Ram 1500 pickups in a fleet of 109 equipped with plug-in hybrid powertrains were damaged when their prototype lithium-ion batteries overheated. No fire or injuries occurred, and the incidents took place when the trucks were unoccupied, Chrysler said. It was not known how long the test vehicles – deployed to 16 municipalities and utility companies in 20 states – would be sidelined

The prototype batteries were supplied by Electrovaya, based in Mississauga, Ontario, near Toronto. During the sidelining of the test models, Chrysler engineers will be working on a "superior battery," said Michael Duhaime, Chrysler's global director of electrified powertrain propulsion systems. In the next phase of the testing, a different battery chemistry will be used, which Mayne said is normal in the product development process.

Testing new technologies such as plug-in hybrids with fleets is helping automakers capture real-world data on performance and reliability. Toyota found this out before introducing the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid through an extensive test-fleet program involving 125 early prototypes in the U.S. Input from participants assisted finalized engineering and improvement in features for the production model. No major problems like this overheating issue were revealed.

The fleet of plug-in hybrid Ram 1500 pickup trucks and Chrysler Town & Country minivans have accumulated 1.3 million miles during road testing, Chrysler said. The tests are being funded jointly by the U.S. Department of Energy ($58 million) and Chrysler ($65.2 million). The minivans have gotten an average of 55 miles per gallon of gasoline in testing and the Ram 1500 pickups have gotten 37.4 mpg.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 5 Hours Ago
      Another battery manufacturer selling batteries that don't live up to their claims? Another car manufacturer not doing proper testing on batteries & trusting the manufacturer before putting them in production vehicles? Color me shocked. What happened to stress testing things before you sell them? A majority of the Chinese parts that started flooding the market in the 2000's did not end up being up to par, and that caused a lot of problems for various manufacturers. Why weren't these parts tested either? R&D budgets must be razor thin these days.
        DaveMart
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        I simply do not trust lithium manganese chemistry now.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        In no way can these prototypes be construed as "production vehicles."
        Spec
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Well . . . they didn't sell them. Or if they did, it was under beta-testing conditions at least.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        i was not aware these were prototypes, i thought maybe they were leases. In that case, someone does pay for em..
          Letstakeawalk
          • 5 Hours Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          The post clearly states that they are using prototype batteries in a testing program.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Toshiba SCiB or Li-tec batteries, please!
      EZEE
      • 5 Hours Ago
      This is why they are I testing....
      SVX pearlie
      • 5 Hours Ago
      Overheard at Nissan: "Testing"? What's "testing"? I don't know the meaning of this word.
      Doug
      • 5 Hours Ago
      "Disbanding the ENVI group in 2009 sure didn't help." That was always just for show anyhow. They paid someone else do do simple conversions of their cars, and in one case someone else's car.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @Doug
        While ENVI was disbanded, Chrysler still maintained an EV R&D group. It was just rolled into the standard production development program. "The report states that Chrysler has disbanded its ENVI program and integrated the entire group back into normal product development. Even ENVI group leader Lou Rhodes has been reassigned as the group line executive in charge of EV development for both Fiat and Chrysler." "As Reuters reports, Chrysler spokesman Nick Cappa said on Friday that an in-house team of electric car development engineers had been disbanded in favor of a more traditional organization. Cappa said, "Envi is absorbed into the normal vehicle development program." http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1037984_chryslers-envi-electric-vehicle-program-cancelled The T&C PHEV that is being tested above is the same PHEV that Chrysler showed years ago. The development program has been running since 2009. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/pdfs/merit_review_2012/veh_sys_sim/vss063_bazzi_2012_o.pdf
        throwback
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @Doug
        If you recall there was a little bankruptcy incident back then. The company is lucky to still be in existence
      Rr778
      • 2 Years Ago
      37.4 from a ram 1500? Yes please.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @Rr778
        The Overall Mpg of the RAM PHEV as measured by Idaho Natl. Lab was... 19mpg. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/avta/pdfs/phev/chrysler_phev_nov2011.pdf
        Letstakeawalk
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @Rr778
        That increased mpg is only with a full charge and only for the first 50 miles. Relevant quote @ 0:57. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDkGyWO0Sp4
      DaveMart
      • 5 Hours Ago
      The cycle life gets hammered by virtually every other chemistry out there.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 5 Hours Ago
      There is no problem with lithium manganese. You only have to size the battery pack for the load properly. That is it. Lithium managnese are becoming popular in the ebike world. Some formulations have very good output.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well . . . when things go wrong in testing, that is when you learn something.
      raktmn
      • 5 Hours Ago
      Prototype testing succeeds in finding a bug? In other shocking news, today a bear pooped somewhere in the woods.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here's some data on the T&C PHEV: AER 20 miles Charge Depleting CITY Unadjusted: 55 MPG CD Hwy Unadjusted: 46 MPG Charge Sustaining City Unadjusted: 25 MPG CS Hwy Unadjusted: 34 MPG ...and lots of nice tech slides that I'm sure will be eagerly analyzed by the ABG readers. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/pdfs/merit_review_2012/veh_sys_sim/vss063_bazzi_2012_o.pdf Idaho Natl. Lab got these results: Overall fuel economy = 28 Charge depleting FE = 34 Mixed CD / CS FE = 29 Charge Sustaining FE = 25 http://avt.inel.gov/pdf/phev/ChryslerMinivanQ2_2012.pdf
      brotherkenny4
      • 5 Hours Ago
      If you can't get the canadian batteries to work Chrysler, you can try the Korean or Japanese produced batteries. You certainly don't want to use American made batteries. Why would you have any loyalty to the country that kept you from failing?
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