Chrysler Takes The Wraps Off The Pacifica Hybrid In Los Angeles

Chrysler chose the Los Angeles auto show to showcase its all new Pacifica Hybrid minivan for the first time in public. Production is scheduled to begin before the end of the year with cars arriving in showrooms early in 2017. For the first time, Chrysler has filled in some of the details about the Pacifica Hybrid. Prices start at  $41,995 for the Premium trim and $44,995 for the Platinum model. That’s before deducting the federal tax credit of $7,500. After figuring in the credit, a customer can buy a new Pacifica Hybrid for about the same price as the Touring L version of the standard Pacifica.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Chrysler has been very, very careful not to call its new family hauler a plug-in hybrid, even though that is what it is. The Pacifica appeals to mainstream customers, people who are not clamoring for the latest in high tech wizardry. “There’s no other vehicle like this,” said Chrysler boss Tim Kuniskis, head of Fiat Chrysler-North America passenger car brands. “It’s the minivan you know, it’s the minivan you love … and now it gets 80 miles per gallon.”

Officially, the Pacifica Hybrid has 30 miles of all electric range. With a 16.5 gallon fuel tank and a V-6 engine under the hood, it has a total range of 530 miles, according to the company. That should be more than enough. The children who can go more than 500 miles without a bathroom break haven’t been born yet.

Kuniskis said a driver who doesn’t plug in the vehicle will still gain the benefit of the vehicle’s hybrid technologies, including start-stop and regenerative braking, while those that do plug it in with a commute of less than 30 miles may not have to use the gas engine for weeks, if not months.

“This is the next game-changer in the marketplace” said Matt McAlear, senior manager Chrysler brand product marketing. “Just like (the traditional Pacifica) reinvented the segment, we believe this (the Hybrid) will do the same.” The Pacifica Hybrid takes two hours to fully charge on a dedicated 240 volt charger, or 14 hours with a typical 110 volt wall outlet.

Externally, the Hybrid is almost indistinguishable from the standard van. Inside, the instrumentation is slightly different and the Stow-n-Go seating option is not available, but the seats do fold flat to make carrying large objects an easy task.

For those who travel less than 30 miles between charging, the Pacifica Hybrid will waft along in silence, propelled by the electric motor alone. The gasoline engine only kicks in to assist with maximum acceleration or to power the car once the battery is depleted. John Gibson, FCA global chief engineer of electrified powertrains, said his engineers spent more than four years developing the new powertrain, which includes an electrically variable transmission. “We always want to be an innovator in the minivan segment,” Gibson said.

Chrysler has sold 43,300 regular Pacifica minivans since they went on sale in April. It won’t speculate about how many customers will opt for the Hybrid version. But Chrysler has worked very hard to make sure the Hybrid looks, rides, and drives like a regular minivan. It is intended to require no compromises from the driver. “It’s a hybrid, plus electric range,” says Matt McAlear. “If you bought this tomorrow and never plugged it in, it would work like a hybrid. That’s why we really say it’s no compromises.”

My colleague Jo Borras and I disagree on how popular the Pacifica Hybrid will be. He thinks there is little interest in a plug-in hybrid minivan. Honda and Toyota agree with Jo. Neither has any plans to electrify their minivan products. On the other hand, I think Chrysler will hit one out of the park with this car.

I predict surprisingly strong demand. Why? Because if I was in the market for a minivan today, this is the one I would plunk my money down to get. A 7 passenger boxcar on wheels that can handle most urban driving chores on electric power alone with no range anxiety issues and up to 80 MPGe on the road? Yeah, baby. Sign me up for that bad boy!

Source: Detroit News

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.