Chrysler Group LLC says three of 109 pickup trucks in a test fleet of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles were recently damaged by lithium-ion batteries that overheated. The company is pulling the vehicles from service while it looks into upgrades to the 12.9 kWh prototype battery pack.
‘This action is being taken to build upon the lessons from the initial deployment and to concentrate resources and technical development on a superior battery,’ commented Michael Duhaime, Chrysler Group's global director of electrified powertrain propulsion systems.
Twenty-three plug-in hybrid minivans were also deployed and being tested as a part of the program, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. Although no overheating issues were reported among the minivans, Chrysler is also withdrawing these vehicles from service.
Chrysler says the plug-in hybrid fleet had accumulated more than 1.3 million miles of service before the overheating incidents occurred. During testing, the pickups recorded a peak average fuel economy of 37.4 mpg, and the minivans delivered 55 mpg.
The company notes that a different battery chemistry will be used in the projects' next phase.