Dec 16, 2005 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Excerpts from a longer story at a subscription-only industry newsletter, "Inside Fuel & Vehicles," available at http://www.iwpnews.com 15 December 2005 Vol. 4, No. 25
Pentagon Seen As Crucial to Launch of Plug-In Vehicles
The Pentagon will play a crucial role in the successful introduction of DaimlerChrysler's advanced plug-in hybrid Sprinter vans, according to informed company sources and vehicle proponents, as the automaker presses ahead to make the technology commercially viable. The military, which is currently evaluating the van's advanced power train technology, could be the critical first major buyer for the vans in the United States -- climbing from just a handful to near 50 vehicles over a period of years. The military is considered an engine for increasing the scalability of novel technology.
... Although fuel economy has become of increasing importance with the price of oil hovering near $60 per barrel, the essential purpose for these vehicles would be to improve energy availability and provide flexible logistics in the field, according to sources.
... The plug-in platform could be used to drive silently into hostile territory, deliver a special operations force, then move out of the hostile area using its fossil fuel engine for the long trek back to base, a company official explained. The vehicles have an increased range using only electric power, up to 18 miles, with reduced heat and noise signatures.
...The automaker expects six times as many vans to be placed in the U.S. in phase two of its plug-in introduction program, say officials. Yet, increasing the number of vans to 35, or more, will be dependent on the demand generated from the first phase, say sources. The number of vehicles to be built by the automaker could rise to near 50 with increased military interest in the vehicle technology. No hard production dates have been set for the second phase.