Chrysler announced it will temporarily suspend testing of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

The automaker took the decision to stop the testing after three of the vehicles suffered damages when their prototype lithium-ion batteries overheated. Fortunately the pickup trucks were unoccupied when the incidents happened and no person was injured. The automaker decided to replace the batteries with other that use a different chemistry.

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

The vehicles are part of the 109-truck fleet which is evaluated by Chrysler and utility companies from 20 states, a program funded by the Auburn Hills automaker and the U.S. Department of Energy. This project focuses on the first factory vehicles capable of reverse power flow, which allows the transfer from the vehicle to a building during a power outage or even sell electricity back to their utility company.

“You can link them all together and establish your own mini grid,” Mayne said, adding that this system was being tested when the failures occurred.

Chrysler will also upgrade the batteries form 23 minivans, which are part of a parallel program. It is not the first time when plug-in hybrids have problems with their batteries overheating and even catch fire.


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