Dodge Durango to Get Hybrid Powertrain

DaimlerChrysler has announced that it will start offering the Dodge Durango with a hybrid
powertrain in 2003. The company expects that up to 15 percent of total Durango volume will
be equipped with the new gasoline-electric propulsion system. “You can get V-8 power out of
a V-6 while burning much less fuel,” said Bernard Robertson, DaimlerChrysler senior vice
president – Engineering Technologies and general manager of Truck Operations. “It’s exactly
what people want: to be able to have a positive impact on the environment without having to
pay for it.” Pending federal legislation to create up to $3,000 in tax incentives for
purchasers of hybrid vehicles could make the Durango hybrid cost-competitive with its
gasoline-powered counterpart. The hybrid Durango combines two separate propulsion systems:
a 3.9-liter, V-6 engine with automatic transmission that powers the rear wheels; and a
three-phase, AC induction electric motor that drives the front wheels. The electric motor
assists the gasoline engine during acceleration, and recaptures energy normally lost during
deceleration. The combination provides the power, acceleration and performance of a
conventional V-8 engine and is quicker than a 5.9-liter, V-8-powered Durango from 0-60
miles per hour, according to Dodge. The hybrid powertrain is said to yield a 20 percent
increase in fuel efficiency, achieving 18.6 miles per gallon combined city/highway,
compared with 15.5 miles per gallon for the conventional V-8 Durango. There are no
sacrifices in comfort or equipment options, although trailer-tow capability is reduced. The
gains in fuel efficiency result in part from the downsizing of components in the hybrid
vehicle. A smaller engine can be used, permitting use of smaller related components,
including catalytic converter, fan and fan clutch, radiator, and driveshaft. The improved
fuel efficiency, in turn, permits use of a smaller fuel tank (20 gallons vs 25 gallons).

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