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Chrysler halts tests on plug-in hybrid fleet after batteries overheat

Chrysler Group LLC is temporarily suspending testing of its fleet of advanced plug-in hybrid electric vehicles after three of the pickups were damaged when their prototype lithium-ion batteries overheated.

The trucks were unoccupied when the incidents occurred, and no one was injured. But the automaker will replace the batteries in the test vehicles with units that use a different chemistry.

“Hiccups happen. We’re disappointed, but it by no means spells the end of the program,” said Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne.

The pickups are part of a fleet of 109 trucks being evaluated by the Auburn Hills automaker and a group of utility companies and municipalities across 20 states. It is part of a program jointly funded by Chrysler and the U.S. Department of Energy.

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