Wednesday, March 28, 2007

DaimlerChrysler Continuing Plug-in Hybrid Development - New 2007 Dodge Sprinter PHEV Included in Fleet Testing Program


[From Green Car Congress:]

DaimlerChrysler is expanding its concept plug-in hybrid program to include the all-new 2007 Dodge Sprinter.

Up to 20 Dodge Sprinter Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) will be placed in the United States between now and the first quarter of 2008 as part of a test-fleet program [See previous post] Four of the vehicles, built on the previous-generation Dodge Sprinter, already are in operation with customers.

The 2007 Sprinter, introduced in February, is longer, wider and taller than its predecessors. The new models are powered by a choice of two all-new engines, a 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine with 154 hp (115 kW) or 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine with 254 hp (189 kW).

A number of the Dodge Sprinter PHEVs will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries that are about half the weight and have much greater storage capacities when compared with nickel-metal hydride batteries. The vehicles will yield technical information through real-world driving conditions about lifetime, performance and cost of batteries.

The Dodge Sprinter PHEV has the capacity for 20 miles all-electric range (AER). A switch on the dashboard gives the operator the ability to manually switch between modes as needed, or automatically by the vehicle control system. Two different combustion engines are being offered in the Dodge Sprinter PHEV: diesel or gasoline. The diesel version will yield the highest fuel economy benefit and is the first fleet test of a diesel plug-in hybrid system.

DaimlerChrysler remains the only auto manufacturer currently evaluating a variety of plug-in hybrid powertrain (diesel and gas) configurations in real-world, customer-operation service within the United States.

DCX is probably farthest along in their development of a commercial plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. They have been working on this Sprinter PHEV concept vehicle with the Electric Power Research Institute for several years now.

While a plug-in delivery van may not be as snazzy or eye-catching as GM's Chevy Volt concept plug-in hybrid unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January (see previous post, unlike the Volt, which is not a fully functioning prototype at this point, DCX's Sprinter PHEVs have been on the road for over a year now.

A good sign that plug-in are on the way... let's hope they get here in time!

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