Chrysler has issued a recall of 2,000 Dodge Avengers. (Photo : Reuters)
Chrysler stopped working on a test fleet of plug-in hybrid minivans and pickups on Monday after several of the car batteries started overheating.
The company announced in a press release that the issue happened in three of the fleet's 109 pickups setup with plug-in hybrid powertrains sustained damage when their prototype 12.9-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion propulsion batteries overheated.
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No problems have been determined with its test fleet of 23 plug-in hybrid minivans, but they have suspended the use of those vehicles as well for the time being. More than 1.3 million total miles of service have been put in on the cars in different types of conditions such as high-altitude Colorado and Arizona's heated desert.
"This action is being taken to build upon the lessons from the initial deployment and to concentrate resources and technical development on a superior battery," said Michael Duhaime, Chrysler's global director of electrified powertrain propulsion systems, in a statement on the Chrysler website.
All of the plug-ins will be evaluated for durability and other qualities by 16 companies in the U.S. Chrysler is currently working with a company to potentially develop a new battery chemistry for the next phase of the program. The company doesn't know at this time how long the phase may take to complete the new battery but they are hopeful it will be completed sooner rather than later.
The long-term goal is that eventually vehicle batteries can help power a number of electrical needs in places like business and homes considering the demand and price of power is at an all-time high.
The tests are being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and Chrysler. Chrysler's piece of the funding is $65.2 million and the DOE's is $58 million. The pickup truck project is expected to cost $97.4 million and the minivan portion, using Chrysler Town & Country minivans, will cost approximately $25.8 million.
There were no reported injuries and none of the workers were in the vehicles when they started overheating.