PLUG OK license plate
Nissan and Chrysler have PHEV Prototypes; May Join Race
Sep 3, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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Just when we thought things were settling down, we get news that two more of the big carmakers appear to be coming around to PHEVs. Chrysler has three prototypes it's already showing to dealers. Nissan, which has recently been coming around to EVs (along with Renault and its partnership with Better Place), was one of the first carmakers in the 1990s to be involved with PHEV development.

We'll update our page at­carmakers.html . This news appears to leave Honda as the main holdout.

Nissan mulls plug-in hybrids: official September 3, 2008­article/­ALeqM5hyOf-wDJ3mG_hLpWYsyHBKBQ-UBw

TOKYO (AFP) Nissan is considering developing plug-in hybrid vehicles that can be charged at home, as it seeks to catch up with its rivals in fuel-sipping cars, an official said Wednesday. Japan's third-largest automaker is considering the move as consumers are increasingly switching to fuel-efficient cars due to high gasoline prices, spokesman Mitsuru Yonekawa said, declining to give further details.

Nissan has already conducted tests with an experimental model and is deciding whether to bring the car to market, according to local media. Nissan has been slower than Toyota and Honda to embrace petrol-electric hybrids, seeing a brighter future for vehicles running entirely on electricity.

Nissan Has Started PHEV Development
Green Car Congress 3 September 2008­2008/­09/­nissan-has-star.html

Nissan Motor Co. has started development of a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), according to Vice President Mitsuhiko Yamashita. The release date remains to be determined.

Los Angeles Times/Up To Speed
Chrysler's plug-in plans
9/3/08 by Ken Bensinger­uptospeed/­2008/­09/­chrysler-electr.html

Chrysler is not known for its green lineup. Its most fuel-efficient vehicle, the Dodge Caliber, gets 26 mpg combined city/highway. But the smallest Detroit automaker is working to change that, according to Jim Press, Chrysler's vice chairman and president.

The company is spending $3 billion developing a new 6-cylinder motor, called the Phoenix, that will feature cylinder deactivation, a process in which fuel injection to some of the cylinders is shut off at appropriate times to save fuel. That's due out in 2010. It's also working on a hybrid version of its Ram pickup, the company's top-selling vehicle, which also is due out in 2010.

And now the company appears closer to developing plug-in hybrid electric cars. Speaking at a media luncheon Tuesday, Press said he'd driven three "producible prototypes" of cars using plug-in hybrid technology. The cars, he said, have already been shown to the company's dealer council and would be shown to other dealers next month.

The vehicles, being developed by Chrysler's new Envi unit -- which also is developing pure electric vehicles -- are capable of reaching 60 mph in less than four seconds, Press said, and have a range of "at least 300 miles." He said the technology would be particularly appropriate for off-road vehicles, citing the Jeep brand as a possible option, and said it could be adapted for use in existing models or for use in new cars and trucks.

Although Press offered no release date for such vehicles, having production ready plug-ins is a huge step forward for Chrysler. At the Detroit auto show in January, the company unveiled three concept cars -- the Chrysler ecoVoyager, the Dodge ZEO and the Jeep Renegade -- that had all-electric, extended range electric or plug-in electric drivetrains.

But those cars were non-operational models, and no timeline for development was even hinted at. In July, Chrysler said it was developing electric vehicles with a 40-mile range that would go on sale in three to five years.

The news today that Chrysler has working plug-in hybrids signifies a significant step forward in the company's adoption of such technologies and increases the competition in the race to produce the first commercially available plug-in hybrid.

General Motors is developing an extended-range electric car, the Volt, due out in late 2010 or early 2011; Toyota has promised to put a plug-in version of its Prius into fleets by the end of 2009; and start-up Fisker Automotive says it will sell an $80,000 plug-in next year.

Chrysler appears less enthusiastic about other technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells, which Press suggested might be something for his children's lifetime rather than his own. For the time being, he said, the focus is on combinations of internal combustion motors and battery power.

"We're making substantial progress on electrification of our vehicles," Press said.

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