Central Hudson received three Dodge Ram 1500 PHEV plug-in hybrid electric 4X4 pick-up trucks from Chrysler Corporation to test over a three-year period as part of a nationwide field study of electric vehicles. “Central Hudson is one of 10 partners in the country to test these prototype vehicles,” said Charles A. Freni, Senior Vice President of Customer Services at Central Hudson. “These pick-up trucks will be used daily by our field personnel to test and assess their performance in real world utility operations for a period of three years,” he said. The trucks operate by use of an electric motor and gasoline engine working in tandem, and can run on electricity-only at low speeds for limited distances.
Performance data will be monitored and evaluated by Chrysler and New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) for use in determining vehicle reliability, environmental benefits and cost-effectiveness. The vehicles are provided to Central Hudson at no cost in return for normal maintenance and data collection.
“The lithium-ion batteries used by the pick-up trucks are rated at 12 kilowatt-hours and can be recharged through regenerative braking, and also by a standard AC electric outlet to ensure a full charge at the start of each day,” said Freni. “Recharging batteries from the electric grid reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent compared with using diesel or gasoline engines, at an average fuel cost of about 75 cents per equivalent gallon,” he said. The vehicles’ engine and batteries can also be used as an external power source with sufficient capacity to serve a typical home, and the trucks feature AC outlets to power external electrical equipment used at job sites.
Chrysler selected participating cities and states to evaluate temperature extremes, urban traffic cycles and diverse climates and geographies. Other cities that have received the demonstration Ram 1500 PHEV pick-up trucks include Yuma, AZ; San Francisco and Sacramento, CA; Charlotte, NC; Albany, NY; and Boston, MA.
Funding for the hybrid line trucks was made available through NYSERDA’s Statewide Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program on behalf of the Clean Cities Coalitions in New York. NYSERDA received more than $13 million through the Department of Energy (DOE) Clean Cities Petroleum Reduction Technologies Projects, which obtained $300 million through the ARRA. Funding for the hybrid pickup trucks was made available to the Chrysler Group through a DOE grant of up to $48 million as part of a $2.4 billion ARRA DOE Vehicle Electrification program, and $49.9 million from Chrysler Group LLC.
The three plug-in electric hybrid pick-up trucks join Central Hudson’s growing fleet of utility vehicles using new transportation technologies, including eight hybrid line trucks, and use of a biodiesel fuel blend in all of its heavy-duty trucks to reduce emissions, petroleum use and maintenance costs.