Turrentine, Thomas S., Jamie Davies, Kevin A. Nesbitt, Dahlia Garas (2014) Chrysler Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Project. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-14-36
In partnership with Chrysler LLC, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the city of San Francisco, the Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center at the University of California, Davis evaluated the use and consumer response to 28 of the RAM 1500 4X4 PHEV pickup trucks which were deployed in California. The demonstration project provided an opportunity to observe the deployment of Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology in fleets and focus on the context in which users responded to the technology. We accomplished this using multiple research instruments, which included surveys, driver logs, site visits, data analysis and in-depth interviews with every vehicle user. Our unique approach complements the large scale data gathering and analysis done by INL since we focus on individual users and explaining broader trends and behaviors. The following report will describe the findings from our in-depth consumer and market research efforts surrounding this advanced vehicle. In particular, we emphasize the following research highlights:
- Chrysler demonstrated PHEV technology in a full size truck platform and provided a large and distinct market segment (truck users) with access to electric and hybrid vehicle technology.
- Truck buyers may require more hands on experience than other segments in order to evaluate the functional aspects of the vehicle. As such, fleets might provide a good conduit to the consumer market for alternative fuel pickup trucks and vans.
- Experiences (good and bad) with a fleet vehicle can shape or influence the opinions of new car buying consumers around brand, model, technology and fuel type.
- Pickup trucks, vans and SUVs are the most appropriate vehicle form for many municipal and corporate fleets. However, vehicle functionality is critical.
- PHEVs have features which appeal to fleets but it takes time, experience and appropriate instructional structure for them to recognize additional values beyond fuel savings.
- PHEV performance will vary depending on institutional factors, user behavior and operator training. Understanding best practices for PHEV deployment can ensure vehicles meet and surpass performance expectations.