DETROIT — Chrysler has halted work temporarily on a test fleet of plug-in hybrid-electric pickups and minivans after several of the advanced batteries in its pickups overheated, the automaker said Monday.
There were no injuries and the vehicles were unoccupied, Chrysler said in a statement.
“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,” Michael Duhaime, Chrysler’s global director of electrified powertrain-propulsion systems, said in a statement.
Three of the fleet’s 109 pickups equipped with plug-in hybrid powertrains were damaged when their prototype 12.9-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion propulsion batteries overheated, Chrysler said.
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The company has not had any problems with its test fleet of 23 plug-in hybrid minivans but is also suspending the use of those vehicles.
The plug-in electric vehicles were being evaluated for durability and other attributes by 16 municipalities and utility companies across 20 states.
The fleet accumulated more than 1.3 million miles of service in various conditions, from high-altitude Colorado to Arizona’s searing desert.
The batteries for the project were supplied by Electrovaya, based in Mississauga, Ontario, near Toronto.
Chrysler is working with the company to develop a new battery chemistry for the next phase of the program, said Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne.
Chrysler does not know how long it will take to develop the new battery.
“It’s fair to say this is a disappointment, but it is consistent with any product- development process,” which often encounters setbacks, Mayne said.