By on October 7, 2014

2014 Chrysler Town & Country

Minivan shoppers will have a new option to consider in 2015, as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed plans to introduce a PHEV variant of the Chrysler Town & Country late into the coming year.

Automotive News reports the PHEV will be based on the next-generation Town & Country, originally scheduled for arrival in 2016 as stated by Marchionne during FCA’s investor day back in May. Other PHEVs are also in the works, including a full-size crossover for Chrysler. That said, Marchionne warns that electrification can’t fix everything:

I think you need to be very, very careful if you think that electrification, given its inherent limitations on range, especially in markets like the U.S., will effectively displace combustion. It will never provide the travel distance that you require, especially based on what we know today about the storage capabilities of batteries.

I keep on running into this fundamental economic obstacle of overcoming the cost equation of electrification. You can’t. You can’t unless there is a wholesale change and a fundamental shift in the pricing structure of cars.

The new PHEV, powered by a gasoline/battery pack combo, might outgun the Toyota Prius in the fuel economy game, according to Chrysler brand chief Al Gardner. The ur-hybrid in PHEV form for 2015 nets 95 mpg in electric-only mode, and 50 mpg combined in hybrid mode.

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33 Comments on “Next-Gen Chrysler Town & Country PHEV Debuting A Year Early...”


  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Just the expensive to fix, high-tech add-on needed to further strain the Chrysler low-reliability ratings. Perhaps the heavy battery pack will dampen the shudder from their poor brake design.

    • 0 avatar
      Waterview

      +1 Preach it brother!

    • 0 avatar
      TCragg

      The brakes on the 2008-2012 models are admittedly undersized for the RT vans. The 2013- models received a brake upgrade with larger rotors and dual-piston calipers for the front brakes, with a corresponding improvement in brake feel and performance. My personal vehicle is a 2010 Routan, which of course suffers from the same brake maladies of the DGC and CT&C vans. I replace my front pads and rotors annually, and do my rears bi-annually. The parts are cheap enough that an annual brake job only costs me $150.00, which is only slightly more than the oil change at a VW dealer! But you are correct, brakes are a sore point for the early RTs. A glaring bit of nickel-and-diming from the Daimler/Cerberus days at Chrysler.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “The brakes on the 2008-2012 models are admittedly undersized for the RT vans.”

        Unless it has the performance brakes that come on models with the 17″ wheels. They tend to fare much better.

        • 0 avatar
          TCragg

          I wasn’t aware that there was a “performance brake” option on the RTs. The 2013- and up vans have 17″ wheels as standard, since the larger brakes are now fitted across the board. But I do recall seeing some 2011-2012 models with the dual-piston calipers, which require a minimum 17″ rim to fit. So perhaps there was an option since the 2011 refresh to get larger brakes. I can’t imagine that the upgraded brakes would be randomly installed during production, but I’ve seen stranger things before. I recall 3rd generation Jettas on the lot with a mix of rear disc and drum brakes on the same trim levels on cars of the same model year.

          • 0 avatar
            taxman100

            You know – with 17 inch wheels, if you go ahead and upgrade the calipers, you can run the new heavy duty brakes on your Routan.

            There is some discussion that technically the brake master cylinder is a different part number, but with new calipers, you can run the upgrades pistons, rotors, and pads.

            I plan on doing that on my 11 Routan when/if it needs it.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    All 10 of the B&B PHEV supporters should rejoice!
    Another vehicle they will never buy but refer everyone to buy.

    • 0 avatar

      No. 1 PHEV supporter rejoicing!
      Everyone should buy one!

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      There’s currently a Sienna and a Prius in my driveway.

      A vehicle combining key features of both HOES have me rejoicing.

      Seriously, a hybrid minivan is a win if it can efficiently run the HVAC while at rest. My minivan in basically a living room welded to a Camry, and we use it that way – and it’s only going to happen more when my older son starts participating in sports and my younger son is born. Providing comfort while not driving is an often overlooked use case for a minivan, and our Prius does it better than any other small car.

      If the PHEV range can cover my home -> preschool -> work -> preschool -> home use case (about 2.5 miles for each leg), it’s a win.

      Bonus points:
      1) Exceeding the better-than-advertised high-20s MPG we see from our sienna
      2) Maintaining the 3500lb tow rating that is standard on all minivans.
      3) Providing 15A 110V power so that I can run a hotplate at a soccer field, highway rest stop, or campsite.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Perhaps the best summary of what a minivan should do that I have ever read.

        Don’t forget the ability to run a laptop/notebook and our a built in DVD player and perhaps a small fridge for the requisite juice boxes.

    • 0 avatar
      chris724

      This would be perfect for my wife, who drives our 3 kids around town every day in her ’06 T&C, and averages 15mpg. But what’s it going to cost?

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    “The new PHEV, powered by a gasoline/battery pack combo, might outgun the Toyota Prius in the fuel economy game”

    who would write an article with a totally unsubstantiated claim without even questioning? This is the first Hybrid Chrysler ever builds, they are not really known for high-tech, and just because they say so (without showing any test data), you believe they build a more efficient hybrid than Toyota?

    Toyota may not be popular on TTAC due to lack of racing cred… but i think everyone here agrees they are the leader in hybrid fuel economy (and reliability). (although that Accord has an interesting hybrid concept)

    This is like me saying I build a new micrprocessor next year, that twill be faster than any Intel processor. I can’t show you details and never build one before. Just take my word for it. I just need to find a website to repeat my claim.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      Actually not. Chrysler did built some very unpopular hybrid vehicles before the 2008 bankruptcy (Durango and Aspen, if I recall correctly).

      Still, your point is well made.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Yeah, the Prius gets 50MPG on gasoline-only.

      Assuming that their claim is the usual marketing spin, they’ll me getting 50MPG when running off of battery + gas is the same as the Volt’s 230MPG claim. That claim was probably based on solid modeling the average driver’s behavior, but shill laughable because it obscured what we really want to know about the vehicle’s performance.

      A hybrid minivan with a big battery beings compelling benefits to the table that a hybrid small car does not, though, since it’s as much a living room as it is basic transportation.

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        The Plug-in Prius is rated at 95 MPGe. The Volt is rated at 98MPGe. For some reason, I’m not imagining a heavier and less aerodynamic minivan beating either of these, but more power to them if they can.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      What makes you think that Chrysler, or any major automaker for that matter, can’t build a decent hybrid?

      The technology is not new (for example: https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/plus-ca-charge-1916-woods-dual-power-an-early-gaselectric-hybrid-of-surprising-sophistication/), and I expect many of the necessary subsystems are available from suppliers.

      If Chrysler lacks expertise with hybrid vehicles, they might need to hire some key people with experience on successful hybrid vehicles, but that shouldn’t be too difficult.

      There’s a big difference between a major automaker introducing a new powertrain option and you claiming you are going to build a new microprocessor in your garage next year…

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        The technology is not new…

        But Toyota has a 15 year had start on making affordable mass-market hybrids. That’s the kind of experience that building a couple of limited run SUVs can’t really replace…

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Al Gardner should be fired. A brand chief – even of a mediocre brand like Chrysler – should not be claiming a minivan will get 50 MPG, until this is 100% proven.

          Chrysler needs to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up, and stop with the nonsense pronouncements.

    • 0 avatar

      This is basically a non issue…. There are enough “Full Service Suppliers” in the auto world that basically provide an off-the-shelf electrified (inverters, chargers, motors, etc) powertrain kit that just needs to be integrated by the OEM and calibrated by the suppliers.

      The fact that PHEV is being “pulled ahead” is what is surprising to me… Things with the battery must be going “deceptively” well :)

      • 0 avatar

        None of you have addressed the fact that the Aspen/Durango hybrids were most likely hybrid tech LICENSED from GM. Ford LICENSES the Prius Hybrid patents from Toyota to produce ALL their Fusion/etc hybrids. It’s not just Inverter, Battery, Controller in a hybridized system, it’s the layout and operation of the system they have allowed the automakers to PATENT, and decide to license or NOT license to their competitors at a manufacturer-determined/set cost.

        • 0 avatar
          PenguinBoy

          I seem to recall reading that Ford and Toyota both developed and patented bits of their hybrid technology independently, and then cross licensed the patents to each other. While I”m not sure that I’m right in this case, it seems a pretty standard approach to these things between big companies.

          In any case, it wouldn’t surprise me if FCA holds some patent(s) that are of interest to Toyota (or Ford, or GM), and they could all work out some sort of deal.

          Failing that FCA could develop an alternative to any patented bit of technology – although it’s highly unlikely that would be necessary.

          Either way, I don’t see patents as a significant barrier to entry for a major automaker looking to introduce a hybrid vehicle.

          A much more significant barrier than patents is very low sales of hybrid vehicles not named “Prius”, although maybe FCA thinks that is about to change.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          Ford LICENSES the patents, but the development was done by Ford. The systems are rather similar, but in order to keep things civil, Ford LICENSES emissions technology to Toyota.

          The two mode system that Chrysler used on the HEMI Hybrid was developed by GM, Chrysler, MB and BMW. It wasn’t LICENSED.

  • avatar
    koshchei

    This is a good vehicle to put a hybrid system into: The platform is extremely reliable and sturdy, and gets good highway (<8L/100km), but poor city mileage (~12L/100km).

    The question is where they put the battery — would they give up the front storage/stow 'n go compartments, for example?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      They’ll put the battery under the floor. My Sienna is built on a truss that looks like the “torsion box” that furniture makers like to make.

      There’s plenty of unused volume in there. It’s a packaging challenge for sure, but there’s probably about a cubic meter of air town there. I but a an automotive design team could do a lot with that.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Finally.

    I understand why no one has done the hybrid minivan thing yet (because minivans are usually low-margin vehicles, and you can milk consumers harder with a crossover) but it’s still nice to see.

    I’m surprised Toyota was bested in this enterprise, but I suppose they sell every Highlander Hybrid they make, and at a good profit.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Nobody is going to mention how rock-solid Sergio’s time frames for new models are?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yah! Like when the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees came out in March 2013. Or that the 2016 Grand Cherokees are coming out in March 2015.

      Hey! Whatever sells ‘m!

  • avatar
    AlfaRomasochist

    This … could actually work for us. I’m intrigued.

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