Chrysler cans Ram Hybrid, receives federal funding for Ram Plug-In

Chrysler's Ram division received a $48 million cash infusion from the U.S. Department of Energy to use toward its Ram Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle project that will see a trial run of 140 vehicles stationed across the country. Meanwhile, the automaker says it has canceled plans to bring to market a standard Ram Hybrid.

The $48 million comes from the $2.4 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act DOE Vehicle Electrification program.

Chrysler says that the funding will be used to develop a 5.7-liter Hemi-powered Ram Hybrid capable of traveling up to 20 miles using only the power supplied by a 12KwHr lithium ion battery. Chrysler says it has contracted with Electrovaya to supply the batteries to be used in the trial fleet.

"This initiative represents how government, automotive industry, suppliers and key partners are reaching common goals and demonstrates how rapidly this type of advanced technology can be brought to market," said Paolo Ferrero, Chrysler's Senior Vice President-Powertrain, in a statement released to the media. "DOE-support for domestic advanced technology is an important enabler for Chrysler Group and its key suppliers in order to understand and test customer acceptance and the capability of PHEV systems in a variety of real-world conditions."

Chrysler has not confirmed where the test vehicles will be sent, although the automaker says that "more than 21" partners have been selected, including utility companies, government agencies and universities. The testing will be used to collect data for a regular production series of plug-in hybrids.

Ram Hybrid dropped
Chrysler had been developing a Ram Hybrid that had been set to arrive in dealers later this year, although now the automaker says it has suspended the plan after reviewing the public's response to other hybrid pickups - namely the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

The automaker "could not formulate an appropriate business case" and says it is canceling development of the Ram Hybrid which had been scheduled to enter production later this year as a 2011 model. Leftlane's spies had nabbed images of what appeared to be production-ready Ram Hybrids testing late last year, meaning the project was almost certainly close to completion when the plug was pulled - in favor of the Ram Plug-In Hybrid.