What Happened To Chrysler's Hybrid Trucks?

Illustration for article titled What Happened To Chryslers Hybrid Trucks?

Back in 2011, Chrysler announced they'd be making over a dozen plug-in hybrid Ram 1500s. Since then, I haven't heard a word of news on these trucks.

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The trucks were part of a study done with the Department of Energy and the UC Davis Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Research Center. You can read the basic plan for this study right here. Well, I'm not sure if "were" is the right word. According to this UCD report from a 2013 conference, the program is only ending this month, June 2014.

It also implies that 140 vehicles were built, or that Chrysler intended to built that many trucks. It's not exactly clear. Car and Driver's 2011 report that 140 plug-in trucks were shipping out backs up the intention, but not the execution.

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Adding to the murky mystery of this likely-doomed program, probably dying a quiet death like Chrysler's other electric plans of the 21st century, is that Allpar claims it started with a military hybrid truck project.

The rumor is that these trucks were built just as a favor to the government, basically, and that Chrysler has never had any intention of making them anything more than a study. A "look, at least we're trying" sort of gesture.

Have you ever seen one of these trucks? Do you know if Chrysler has any intention of doing anything with them, or does the company care as little about their electric offerings as the rest of the world?

UPDATE: Chrysler confirmed that they have built 140 of these trucks, and that their program is still running, focusing on 24 units in fleets. This project is for research and will be folded back into other programs, but not necessarily into building plug-in-hybrid trucks. Here are their own words:

In a nutshell, this is a technology demonstration conducted in conjunction with a partnership between Chrysler Group LLC and the DOE. The results will inform future production programs, but not necessarily the vehicle applications demonstrated.

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Photo Credit: Chrysler

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DISCUSSION

orlove
Raphael Orlove

I'm gonna say that I have very little doubt in my mind that this program was just to comply with some government program, or make some regulator happy, or to finally throw a bone at a high-up boss who campaigned for a hybrid Ram.

But I'm curious if anyone here has reliably heard as much, because if this program was doomed from the get-go to dead end with no fanfare, I think that's interesting.

What's weird, though, is I get the feeling that these kinds of programs are completely commonplace in the auto industry, that nobody thought it was weird that Chrysler was going to (or maybe did) build 140 plug-in hybrid trucks that were very well received by the people who drove them, as that UCD study reports. I get the feeling that nobody in the industry thought it was odd at all, just business as usual.

I don't doubt that's all the case, I just wanted to hear if anyone else every gave much thought to this program, pretty much operating with no attention from the public whatsoever.