Chrysler is withdrawing its fleet of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in order to issue out a battery-pack upgrade due to overheating issues with its lithium-ion propulsion batteries.
Three of the PHEV fleet’s 109 pickups has sustained damage during testing when their prototype 12.9-kWh batteries overheated. Thankfully no injuries related to the incidents were reported, as they occurred while the vehicles were unoccupied. But based on what the American automaker has learned from the incidents, all 109 pickups and 23 plug-in hybrid minivans have been withdrawn from service for the battery upgrade.
As the projects enter the next phase, Chrysler will utilize a different battery chemistry that focuses on grid interaction and improved safety. The number of vehicles returning to service will be based on the complexity of the engineering solution.
So far the fleet has traveled over 1.3 million miles combined and are the first factory-built vehicles to feature a plug-in capability of transferring power from their batteries to the grid, generating revenue for the fleet operators. The trucks are also able to link to one another to form independent mini-grids.
During the testing phase, the pickups recorded a peak average fuel economy of 37.4 mpg while the minivans reached 55 mpg.
“This action is being taken to build upon the lessons from the initial deployment and to concentrate resources and technical development on a superior battery,” said Michael Duhaime, global director-electrified powertrain propulsion systems.