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Chrysler has announced that thanks to a government grant it will build a test fleet of hybrid Ram pickups. Chrysler had initially planned to build a Ram HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) for 2011, but those plans were canceled when market demand was shown to be too minimal. The new truck, under the new Ram brand, will be a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), using a lithium-ion battery, electric motor, 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and a two-mode hybrid transmission. Chrysler claims a 20 mile emissions-free range, with an improvement of 65 percent over the current Ram 1500.
The $48 million grant comes as a part of a $2.4 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act DOE Vehicle Electrification program, from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
A total of 140 Ram PHEVs will be built to test market demand as well as the durability of such a truck. “DOE-support for domestic advanced technology is an important enabler for Chrysler Group and its key suppliers in order to understand and test customer acceptance and the capability of PHEV systems in a variety of real-world conditions,” said Paolo Ferrero, Senior VP of Powertrain technology at Chrysler.
It’s not clear how soon the trucks will hit the road, but Chrysler is looking to do a three year test of the vehicles before making any decisions.
Official release after the jump:
Chrysler powertrain strategy includes downsizing and turbocharging, as well as direct-injection and dual-clutch technology
Chrysler has just unveiled its strategy that will see a more than 25 percent improvement in fuel economy by 2014. The five-year plan will see significant use of Fiat technology and engines, with smaller engines, six-speed dual clutch transmissions, as well as the use of turbocharging and direct injection technology. Chrysler will also continue to explore electric car technology, with a hybrid Ram expected this year, while a plug-in hybrid Ram 1500 will begin fleet testing.
In total, four new engines will be launched in Chrysler products over the next few years. The first is the 1.4-liter I-4 FIRE with Multiair, which makes 100-hp at 6,50 rpm and 95 ft-lbs of torque at 4,250 rpm. Hardly exciting, this engine will get impressive fuel economy. Add a turbocharger, however, and the 1.4-liter I-4 FIRE Turbo with Multiair delivers 170-hp at 6,750 rpm and 170 ft-lbs of torque at 3000 rpm. The first vehicle to launch in North America with the 1.4-liter will be the Fiat 500, with other Chrysler models to follow.
Next up is a new version of the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder World Engine (above), which gets Fiat’s variable valve Multiair technology to produce 190-hp and 175 ft-lbs of torque. Compared to its predecessor, Chrysler says this new engine not only delivers improved power, but fuel economy as well.
Finally, a new 3.6-liter V6 engine will also be introduced, taking the place of six different V6 engines in the Chrysler lineup. Called the V6 Pentastar, it will first appear in the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, making 280-hp and 260 ft-lbs of torque - 90 percent of which is available from 1800 rpm. In the Grand Cherokee, this amounts to an increase of 33 percent more power and 11 percent more torque than the outgoing V6 model.
In addition to these four new engines, Chrysler will begin to use Fiat’s six-speed dual clutch transmission to deliver improved fuel economy and quick-shifting driving dynamics. Chrysler says the Dual Dry Clutch Transmission (DDCT) can handle up to 260 ft-lbs of torque and will launch later this year in mid-size D-Segment cars.
“By 2014 calendar year, more than 80 percent of Chrysler Group’s current powertrain lineup will undergo a complete makeover,” said Chrysler Powertrain boss Paolo Ferrero.
GALLERY: Chrysler V6 Pentastar
GALLERY: Fiat 1.4-liter FIRE, FIRE Turbo and DDCT
Official release after the jump: