It is hard to believe that is had been over a year since Chrysler and GM went into bankruptcy filings. Both companies have shed a tremendous about of debt, obligations, and in GM’s case, four car brands. Only in America, right? So with all that taxpayer money, you’d think we’d see some genuine innovations in terms of hybrid and electric vehicles, especially when it comes to pickups. A hybrid pickup sounds great, especially for your average small business owner, where every buck counts.
Here we see proof of taxpayer money being put hard at work, as Chrysler tests out its Ram Plug-In Hybrid pickup truck in Death Valley. Guess what? You can’t buy it. Ever. It is part of a small “demonstration fleet,” with no plans to sell such a vehicle to the general public.
The Ram hybrid has a two-mode transmission, 12 kilowatt battery, and could go 20 miles without using a drop of petrol. That is great if you ask me, especially if it maintains a strong payload and towing capacity. You can even see the plug-in slot next to the license plate. It is an updated version of the system found in the old Aspen and Durango hybrids, which were available to buy very briefly before Chrysler went begging for a bailout. Apparently though, Chrysler thinks nobody would want it (or it might be too expensive to produce) so they said they would not offer it for sale to the public. BUT, they would build 140 examples using grant money from the government.
In addition to the billions Chrysler got from the bailout money, they have also been awarded numerous “grants” to test out new technology. One grant was to the tune of $48 million to test a fleet of 140 plug-in hybrid Ram pickups. Back in 2008, Chrysler said it would build a plug-in hybrid Dodge Ram Pickup (back before the “Ram” brand). Then in March they said they would not build a plug-in Ram. Why? Who knows. Chrysler/Fiat has announced plans to focus more intently on the commercial market, and hybrids certainly do work in the commercial market.
I’d still like to get my hands on one though. I know I’m not alone. It is a little bit irritating to see this vehicle out and about testing, and knowing in all likelihood it won’t be available to buy unless you plan on owning a fleet of Chrysler vehicles. And the Pentastar still isn’t out of the woods yet, considering they’ve introduced two new cars in the year since they took taxpayer dollars (that would be the “Ram” pickup and the new Grand Cherokee.)
Of course that just reminds me of the electric vehicles Chrysler promised too. What happened to the Circuit, the electric Wrangler, and electric Town & Country minivan? Gone, gone, like so much dust in the wind. Chrysler needs to step their game up, and soon. They still don’t have any hybrids, and the planned electric Fiat 500 is still months, if not years away.
Does this piss you off too? Or do we need to cut Chrysler some slack?
Source: Green Car Advisor | Pictures: KGP Photography