Chrysler pulls prototype PHEVs from service to deal with battery problem
The development of the 109 Ram pickups and 23 Town & Country minivans was jointly funded by Chrysler and the DOE.
Chrysler said on Friday that it will withdraw its PHEV test fleet from service after three of the vehicles’ batteries overheated.
"Three of the fleet's 109 pickups equipped with plug-in hybrid powertrains sustained damage when their prototype 12.9 kWh lithium-ion propulsion batteries overheated," said Chrysler in a statement on its web site. The vehicles were unoccupied, and there were no injuries. No similar issues have occurred with the minivans.
"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, Chrysler’s global director of electrified powertrain propulsion systems.
Green Car Reports’ John Voelcker noted that the lithium-ion cells used in these packs, which had a particularly high energy density, come from a small company, Electrovaya, which does not currently provide cells for any production PHEV.
The development of the 109 Ram pickups and 23 Town & Country minivans was jointly funded by Chrysler and the DOE, and the vehicles have been undergoing real-world testing by municipalities and utility companies for a couple of years now. So far, the fleet has logged 1.3 million miles. The plug-in pickups have delivered peak average fuel economy of 37 mpg, while the minivans delivered 55 mpg.