The first group of a fleet of demonstration plug-in Ram pickups was delivered to the city of Yuma, Ariz., on Wednesday.
The trucks were developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, Chrysler Group and the automaker's suppliers. In all, 140 plug-in hybrid pickups will be tested by government agencies and utilities across the United States. Yuma received the first 10 plug-in Rams.
Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of the Chrysler Group's advanced hybrid vehicle project, said the hybrid truck fleet was created "to demonstrate the ability of the technology and how it would be used in the real world."
The vehicles will be tested for three years to evaluate drive cycles, charging, thermal management, fuel economy, emissions and the impact on the nation's electric grid, Bazzi said in a telephone interview.
In all, about 7 million miles are expected to be tallied on the demonstration fleet.
Bazzi said there are no plans to produce a plug-in Ram pickup.
Engineers at Chrysler's headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., will be able to monitor vehicle performance remotely.
Each plug-in four-wheel-drive Ram 1500 pickup is equipped with a 345-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and plug-in hybrid technology, for a combined 399 hp.
Curtis Semak, chief engineer, said the plug-in pickups can operate on battery power for about 50 miles. In combined electric and gasoline mode, the pickups will get about 32 mpg. After the batteries are depleted and the pickup is operating on gasoline, the Ram is expected to average 22 mpg, he said in an interview.
With a full tank of gasoline -- 27 gallons -- and electric assist, the Ram plug-in is expected to have a range of 650 to 700 miles, Bazzi said.
By comparison the production version 2011 4wd Ram pickup averages 13 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway.
In addition to Yuma, the plug-in pickups will be assigned to utilities or government agencies in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and North Dakota. The states were selected to evaluate the trucks under various temperature ranges, urban traffic cycles, diverse climates and extreme elevations.
All of the plug-in pickups are expected to be delivered by the end of summer.
Each Ram plug-in hybrid includes a liquid-cooled 12.9-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack and a 6.6-kilowatt onboard charger. Additional features include AC power generation of up to 6.6 kilowatts, directional charging; reverse power flow, and regenerative braking.
The front axle is automatically disconnected from the powertrain to improve fuel economy when the system detects 4wd is not needed. The powertrain also includes a two-mode hybrid transmission.
The battery pack -- located under the second seat -- is liquid cooled to help maintain a consistent battery temperature.
For contractors, a 240-volt/30-amp four-prong outlet and 120-volt/20-amp duplex outlet power strip is located in the rear box.