What family wouldn’t want a plug-in hybrid minivan? Well, some may opt for more stylish crossover vehicles because they’re generally sportier, but parents who have kids and gear to haul around have often found the sheer functionality of minivans indispensible.
That’s why Chrysler’s news that plug-in hybrid electric Town & Country minivans are now being placed into fleet service with Duke Energy is a bit of interesting news. No, it doesn’t mean plug-in minivans will be at new car showrooms in the short term, but it is signaling positive movement.
The goal of the two-year demonstration program, which involves 25 plug-in minivans with Duke Energy and other partners, is to gather real-world operating data as the vehicles are subjected to a range of driving cycles. This data will help Chrysler engineers assess the viability of the technology for future applications.
The plug-in hybrid minivans are equipped with E85 ethanol-compatible 3.6-liter engines coupled to front-wheel-drive, two-mode hybrid transmissions. Power is also supplied by a liquid-cooled 12.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that brings a total output of 290 horsepower and helps deliver a driving range of 700 miles. Charging at 220 volts requires two to four hours while using a 110 volt charger takes up to 15 hours, depending on a battery’s state of depletion.