Yesterday Chrysler announced it would introduce a plug-in hybrid version of its redesigned Town and Country minivan in 2016.
Projected efficiency is in the neighborhood of 75 MPGe, and it’s been suggested but not confirmed that a nine-speed transmission would be used instead of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) – which is more customary for a hybrid.
What it will actually look like is also open to speculation, but it could very well take cues from the 700C concept (pictured) as shown at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.
Also in the works appears to be all-wheel drive. Plans are for a redesigned Town and Country MPV for 2016, and the PHEV version arriving later the same year. It’s also expected somewhere before this time frame the Dodge Grand Caravan will be discontinued.
If indeed this high-mpg minivan does come to pass, it could jump far above the present minivan mpg barrier in the low 20s. To date, the hybrid star, Toyota, has not seen fit to import even its 30-40 mpg regular hybrid minivans to the U.S., though these are available abroad.
Assuming the Chrysler PHEV’s price in turn is not itself a new effective high bar to jump over, the vehicle would be a welcome family hauler, and potential goad to other automakers to build something to compete.
For example, Chevrolet has had its Volt-based MPV5 concept for several years but has not brought it to market, nor announced plans to do so.
The need for bigger vehicles to save fuel and cut emissions is at least as great, if not more, than for small cars.