Chrysler Launches New Hybrids, then Cancels Their Production

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Don't blink: This is the here-today, gone-tomorrow 2009 Chrysler Aspen Hybrid SUV, which is rated for 20 mpg in the city, 22 mpg on the highway (the best fuel economy for that size of SUV). Chrysler will cease production of the hybrid and conventional Aspen and Dodge Durango SUVs at the end of 2008.

In a sign of these strange economic times, Chrysler is simultaneously preparing to launch its first hybrid vehicles and to shut down their production.

Back in June, the company hyped the price benefits and performance achievements of its new hybrids, the 2009 Dodge Durango HEMI Hybrid and the 2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid, which were to be delivered to showrooms in August. That never happened, but on October 16, Chrysler released the official fuel economy numbers for the two hybrids: 20 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway, which are best-in-class fuel economy ratings for full-size sport utility vehicles.

At that time, Chrysler said the hybrids would arrive in showrooms “later this year,” and the company included a photo of the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid “after production at the Newark Assembly Plant” (note that the company dropped the “HEMI” from the name).

A week later, Chrysler announced that it will close the Newark Assembly Plant in Newark, Del., at the end of this year, a move that will bring an end to the Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen in all their forms, including the new hybrids.

Reprinted from EERE Network News, a free newsletter of the U.S. Department of Energy.