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Chrysler Begins Production of New Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Auburn Hills, Mich., Aug 22, 2008  -  Chrysler LLC’s Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) began rolling off the assembly line this week at its Newark (Delaware) Assembly Plant. Chrysler is offering the two-mode hybrid powertrain on both vehicles built at the plant, Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen.

Production of vehicles with the hybrid powertrain differs in several ways from production of those with conventional powertrains. New processes were implemented to accommodate HEV production, including a unique powertrain assembly process, and ergonomic-assist systems to aid in new functions, such as HEV battery installation.

There are several unique components associated with HEV production that are installed at the plant, including:

  • 300-volt battery
  • Two-mode transmission
  • Torque power inverter module (TPIM)
  • Electric air conditioning 
  • Auxiliary power module
  • High-voltage cables (AC and DC)
  • Hydro-electric power steering pump
  • Hybrid gate way module
  • Cooling module

Dodge Durango was the leader in its segment for initial quality, according to J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Initial Quality StudySM. With the advent of HEV production, a new series of error-proofing processes was put in place to ensure continued quality excellence.

The Advanced Two-mode Hybrid System
Chrysler’s LLC’s advanced, state-of-the-art two-mode full hybrid system — developed in partnership with General Motors, Daimler and The BMW Group — integrates proven automatic-transmission technology with a patented hybrid-electric drive system to deliver the world’s first two-mode full hybrid.

As a result of low- and high-speed electrically variable transmission (EVT) modes, the system is defined as a “two-mode hybrid.” In addition, the sophisticated fuel-saving system incorporates four fixed-gear ratios for high efficiency and power-handling capabilities. During the two EVT modes, the system can use the electric motors to improve fuel economy, acceleration, and for regenerative braking to utilize energy that would normally be lost during braking or deceleration. The energy is stored in the batteries for later use.

The system’s two modes are optimized for city and highway driving.

In the first mode — at low speed and with light loads — the vehicle can operate in three ways: 

  • Electric power only
  • Engine power only 
  • Any combination of engine and electric power

The two-mode hybrid provides all of the fuel-saving benefits of a full-hybrid system, including electric-only operation. In this mode, the engine is “shut off,” with the vehicle moving under electric-only power at low speed. The result is a significant reduction in fuel consumption in heavy stop-and-go traffic.

The second mode is used primarily at highway speeds. In addition to electric assist, the second mode provides full power from engine when conditions demand it, such as when passing, pulling a trailer or climbing a steep grade.

Pricing for the full-size 4x4 sport-utility hybrid electric vehicles is nearly $8,000 below the competition. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for the new 2009 Dodge Durango HEMI® Hybrid is $45,340, including $800 for destination. The MSRP for the new 2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid is $45,570, including $800 for destination. Additionally, customers are expected to receive an estimated tax credit of $1,800.

The 1998 Dodge Durango was introduced in September 1997. The all-new 2004 Dodge Durango production was launched October 2003. The Chrysler Aspen was launched August 2006. Hybrid production began in August 2008.

About Chrysler LLC
Chrysler LLC, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., produces Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge and Mopar® brand vehicles and products. Total sales worldwide in 2007 were 2.7 million vehicles. Sales outside of North America were the highest ever with an increase of 15 percent over 2006. Its product lineup features some of the world's most recognizable vehicles, including the Chrysler 300 and Town & Country, Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee and Dodge Challenger and Ram.

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