Tri-State to test PHEV Ram 1500 pickups over three years

The six Ram 1500 PHEV pickup trucks arrived at Tri-State’s Northern Colorado Maintenance Center earlier this week.

Chrysler Group LLC, working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), recently delivered six demonstration fleet Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) pickup trucks to Tri-State – part of a national demonstration fleet of 140 vehicles that will be used during the next three years to evaluate customer usage, drive cycles, charging, thermal management, fuel economy, emissions and impact on the region’s electric grid.

The trucks are being deployed throughout the United States primarily as fleet vehicles for universities, municipalities and electric utilities, which were selected to evaluate an assorted array of temperature extremes, traffic cycles and diverse climates and geographies.

Tri-State is the only organization in the Rocky Mountain region — and the sole electric cooperative utility in the nation — to participate in the program.  They will be utilized primarily by Tri-State’s fleet, maintenance and member services personnel. Usage will be tracked to measure battery performance and overall hybrid efficiency with the demonstration fleet of pickups.

“We think there’s a valuable role for electricity in mobility and transportation,” said Tri-State executive vice president and general manager Ken Anderson.  “We are excited to get these trucks into our vehicle fleet to see how the technology performs in the variety of conditions throughout our 200,000 square-mile service territory.”

“Organizations have been carefully selected to help the Chrysler Group LLC collect a wide range of data,” explained Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of Chrysler’s advanced hybrid vehicle project.  “With Tri-State’s vast geographic footprint and the variety of weather conditions throughout the year, we’ll be sure to collect a significant amount of valuable data.”

After driving one of the trucks from his home to the State Capitol, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke at a news conference where he commended Tri-State for its innovation and commitment to emerging technologies.

On Nov. 18, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper joined Tri-State and Chrysler officials in riding in one of the vehicles to the State Capitol, where a rollout event was held.  Hickenlooper said he supports innovative, clean technologies to improve the nation’s transportation.

Strictly a demonstration program, there are no plans for a production version of the PHEV Ram 1500 truck at this time.

Funding for the program in part is provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Transportation Electrification Initiative sponsored by the DOE.  The grant, totaling $48 million from DOE and $49.4 million from Chrysler Group LLC, was designed to develop vehicles that will be cost efficient for consumers, satisfy safety concerns of daily travel without recharging and help reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Chrysler also is developing a similar fleet of 25 Town & Country minivans with plug-in hybrid technology for demonstration and evaluation that will be allocated to select cities later this year.


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