Chrysler Town and Country Plug-In Hybrid Minivan (FUTURE)

Written By: Brittney B. 

              Chrysler Town and Country 700c PHEV Minivan (Future)

Since 2000, innovative automakers have released hybrid versions of dozens of popular cars, trucks and SUVs. However, one category remains untouched: so far, no company has mass-produced a hybrid minivan. Curiously, it's change-resistant Chrysler that might be on the verge of doing just that — and more. If early reports and announcements are any indication, a plug-in hybrid electric version of the Chrysler Town & Country is on its way.

Entering new territory

Not content to simply rework their iconic van into a hybrid, Chrysler decided to break new ground and electrify the vehicle too. That's especially surprising for an automaker with no electric vehicles to date (though its sister company, Fiat, does offer a few options). In fact, CEO Sergio Marchionne has questioned the cost and practicality of electric cars more than once, even going so far as to discourage drivers from purchasing the electric Fiat 500e.

It seems his tune has finally changed, at least enough to make way for a greener minivan. In May 2014, Chrysler Group's investors learned that a plug-in hybrid Town & Country could arrive within the next two years. And at the Paris Motor Show just five months later, Marchionne himself revealed that the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) would come a whole year earlier, with dealership availability expected by late 2015.

Chrysler Town and Country 700c PHEV Minivan (Future)

Reinventing a family favorite

When the Town & Country PHEV does debut, it will mark the sixth generation of the Town & Country since its 1990 launch. According to Marchionne, Chrysler's Canadian assembly plant will have to close for three months in order to accommodate the new production demands associated with the latest iteration of the brand's minivan. Those demands include a V-6 gasoline engine, electric battery pack and electric motor, which will attach to Chrysler's first-ever charge cord.

President Al Gardner claims that this new Town & Country will be able to achieve up to 75 MPG. However, most critics assume that number actually refers to MPGe, a rating based on the electric equivalent of one gallon of gasoline. In any case, Chrysler is under pressure to live up to its initial promise. In 2012, Chrysler unveiled 25 prototypes after the U.S. Department of Energy invested $10 million in the project. Their first batch of plug-in hybrid minivans featured lithium-ion batteries and 3.6-liter engines, which combined to attain up to 290 horsepower and last up to 700 miles.

If no one beats them to this milestone, Chrysler could potentially gain huge ground with a valuable, ever-growing niche market. Consumers are more conscious than ever of their environmental footprint, and the minivan in particular is a favorite among families. It isn't hard to see the appeal of a vehicle that's big enough for multiple passengers and extra cargo, yet efficient enough to need far fewer trips to the gas station.