It’s a well-reviewed new minivan design from the company that invented the modern minivan three decades ago.
Unlike any other minivan, however, its large battery pack gives it 33 miles of EPA-rated electric range, and it can drive largely on battery alone despite its size, its seven seats, and its gaping cargo capacity.
It’s the 2017 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid (a plug-in hybrid despite its name), and according to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, it’s going into production today.
For several weeks, eager shoppers have asked this site and others whether the Pacifica Hybrid was a “real vehicle” or just a promotional exercise.
According to the Detroit Free Press in an article published yesterday, it’s real, it’s going into “full retail” production today, though Chrysler has been building small numbers since December 1.
Shipments of the plug-in minivan to dealers, says the “Freep,” will start on Monday, April 17.
That means that the first ones should show up at dealerships before the end of the month.
Fitted with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine and a 9-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels, the gasoline Pacifica is rated at 18 mpg city, 28 highway, and a combined 22 mpg.
Once its battery is depleted, the Pacifica Hybrid is EPA-rated at 32 mpg combined, exceptional for a large minivan.
Chrysler sold more than 25,000 Pacificas in the first three months of this year, and another 62,000 in the eight months last year it was on sale.
While the popularity of the conventional Pacifica may have had some impact, the reasons for the delay in full production of the plug-in version remain unclear.
Chrysler didn’t quite make its goal of starting shipments of the Pacifica Hybrid during the first quarter of this year, which ended on March 31.
In a statement to the newspaper, the company said:
As with all launches, but particularly in the case of this technically advanced vehicle, we are taking great care to ensure that the Pacifica Hybrid comes off the line with the highest quality possible.
We will only introduce a vehicle when we are fully satisfied the vehicle meets or exceeds customer expectations.
In an early drive last fall of a pre-production Pacifica Hybrid, we found it to be smooth, comfortable, and quiet in both all-electric and hybrid modes.
While it’s not the fastest electric vehicle on the road, minivans aren’t customarily driven to their limits anyhow, and we think it’ll be fine for buyers who want a plug-in vehicle with seven seats at a price that starts below $50,000.
Much of the engineering for the hybrid system was done for FCA by Korean company LG, whose LG Chem battery unit supplies the cells from its Michigan fabrication facility.
The 16-kilowatt-hour battery pack fits into the tub that on conventional models holds the “Stow’n’Go” second-row seat that folds into the floor, a well-known innovation pioneered by Chrysler that’s been a major selling point for multiple generations of its minivans.
All Chrysler Pacificas, including the plug-in hybrid model, are built at a single plant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.