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CHRYSLER ELECTRIC MINIVAN TEAM BEGINS NINE-DAY, 5,000-MILE FAST-CHARGING ROAD TEST ACROSS AMERICA

 DETROIT, March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Chrysler Corporation's (NYSE: C) Special Project Team -- comprised of company and supplier engineers -- today begins a nine-day, 5,000-mile road test in a 1993 Dodge Caravan Electric minivan, this country's first federal safety-certified electric vehicle. When the team finishes its unique trip March 12 at the ECO EXPO in Los Angeles, it will have had a real-world electric vehicle experience and hopefully a Guinness world record.
 Represented on the team are Norvik Technologies, General Electric, Goodyear and SAFT USA. The Dodge Caravan Electric minivan in the test is identical to the 50 electric minivans already ordered by 18 utility companies across the country. Delivery of those vehicles begins this spring.
 "First and foremost, we want to assess the practicality of electric vehicle fast-charging," said David R. Smith, Chrysler's Charging Systems program manager.
 The Dodge Caravan Electric minivan, which has a range of approximately 80 miles between charges, will be fast-charged at each stop along the 5,000-mile route using a mobile version of the Chrysler/Norvik Technologies Smart Charging System. The Smart Charging System was introduced last December in Los Angeles.
 "The trick of the Smart Charging System is that it takes the diagnostics -- the pulse of the battery -- several times every second and then adjusts the charge current," explained Jiri K. Nor, Norvik vice president of Research and inventor of the Norvik charging technology. "It gives the battery as much current as it can take, not more, not less. So you have the fastest possible charge."
 In several major cities along the route, Chrysler will work with local utilities to connect the Smart Charger to the utility's power grid in the same manner a successful electric vehicle refueling infrastructure would work in the future.
 "Electricity, like other alternative fuels, has potential only if the refueling infrastructure is developed in conjunction with our vehicle development," Smith said. "That's why we've been working closely with the electric utility industry throughout our electric minivan development and on this cross-country evaluation test."
 According to Smith, the 5,000-mile road test should answer some of Chrysler's engineering questions regarding the Smart Charging System, including:
 -- Can the electric minivan be driven long distances while being fast-charged, charge after charge?
 -- What types of thermal or vibration problems will the battery pack or charging system incur?
 -- Is there any type of product reliability or durability issue that only occurs with a large number of consecutive fast charges?
 -- What effect will weather and temperature have on the charging system?
 -- How important is fast-charging to electric vehicle commercialization?
 In addition, the engineers hope to gain information specifically about the Dodge Caravan Electric minivan, including:
 -- Active safety implications of electric vehicles on the nation's interstate highway system;
 -- Realistic performance numbers for the NiCad battery-equipped minivan;
 -- Durability of the unique electric components including the General Electric DC motor and controller, Goodyear electric vehicle tires and SAFT NiCad battery pack;
 -- Effects of heating/air conditioning on vehicle range and performance;
 -- Human factor issues with driving a virtually silent car;
 -- NiCad batteries (equipped on the test vehicle) compared to Nickel Iron batteries (equipped on about half the 1993 production models).
 The cross-country road test also will allow the engineers to compare range, performance and driving characteristics of the electric minivan vs. its alternative fuel counterpart, a natural gas-powered minivan. Last week, Chrysler announced plans to begin January 1994 production of minivans powered by compressed natural gas.
 "Chrysler remains fuel-neutral," said Richard O. Schaum, executive engineer, Minivan Platform Powertrain Engineering. "We're trying to find the best alternative fuel vehicles for the transportation needs of our customers throughout this country.
 "The bottom line is that Chrysler will continue to use our own and our suppliers' engineering expertise to develop the best vehicles we can," said Schaum. "We'll let our customers decide which fuel works best for them."
 1993 Dodge Caravan Electric
 -- 5-passenger minivan
 -- 65-hp, DC motor
 -- Solid state microprocessor controller
 -- Full-time on-board diagnostics
 -- 2-speed manual transmission
 -- 5,100-lb. test weight
 -- 80-mile range (SAE J227A C-Cycle)
 -- 65 mph top speed
 Dodge Caravan Electric Scheduled Route -- March 3-12
 Departs Detroit (March 3)
 Indianapolis
 Memphis, Tenn.
 Little Rock, Ark.
 Texarkana, Texas
 Dallas (March 5)
 Midland/Odessa, Texas
 El Paso, Texas
 Las Cruces, N.M.
 Tucson, Ariz.
 Phoenix (Stops March 7 at 1993 Solar and Electric 500 Races at PIR)
 Sacramento, Calif.
 Portland, Ore. (Stops March 9 at Alternative Fuels Vehicles
 Conference)
 Sacramento, Calif. (March 10)
 San Francisco (March 10)
 Los Angeles (Finish line March 12 at ECO EXPO, Los Angeles
 Convention Center)
 -0- 3/3/93
 /CONTACT: Jason Vines of Chrysler, 313-576-8095; David Sloan of Golin-Harris, 312-836-7353, for Chrysler; or the Electric Vehicle Team On the Road, Ameritech Mobile, 708-341-4267 or 312-718-9772/
 (C)


CO: Chrysler Corporation ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:

SB -- DE008 -- 2439 03/03/93 12:03 EST
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Date:Mar 3, 1993
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