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SMUD received an electrifying down payment of sorts with the delivery this week of 11 plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) pickup trucks. Three more will be arriving later as part of a $97 million Chrysler demonstration project in select markets.
“We were a logical partner for Chrysler because we’ve been testing alternative fuel vehicles for more than 20 years in an effort to improve the Sacramento region’s air quality,” said SMUD General Manager John DiStasio. “Environmental leadership is one of the SMUD’s core values.”
Chrysler manufactured 140 of the Ram hybrid trucks under a U.S. Department of Energy stimulus grant that was awarded in the fall of 2009.
“These vehicles were still in the concept stage just two years ago, and now we’ll be helping Chrysler test their performance in the real world,” said Dave Hatfield, program manager. “We’ll be evaluating how they do in typical city driving conditions over the next two years, looking at things like battery-charging performance, fuel economy and driving experience. Ultimately we’ll be able to apply what we learn to help our customers who are interested in moving to plug-in electric vehicles.”
The Ram 1500 PHEV has a charge-depleting driving cycle of up to 20 miles in the all-electric mode at speeds up to about 35 miles per hour before the gasoline engine goes to work. It has a lithium-ion battery pack under the second-row seat. It accommodates electrical power tools with an AC power panel supplying 240-volt and 140-volt power in the bed of the truck. The power train includes a 5.7 liter V-8 engine, two-mode hybrid transmission and full regenerative braking, which recovers braking energy and returns it to the battery. A displacement system improves fuel efficiency by cutting fuel delivery to as many as four cylinders.
Strictly a demonstration program, there are no plans for a production version of the PHEV Ram 1500 truck at this time. SMUD plans to test four of the trucks and will parcel out the others to local partners.
SMUD is working closely with suppliers of electric vehicle charging equipment to support residential, workplace and public charging stations throughout the Sacramento region and offers a discounted electric rate to customers who charge their vehicles during off-peak hours.