What do we have here? Yesterday on my way to the office I pulled up next to two heavily camouflaged prototypes of Chrysler’s all-new Town & Country minivan, which is expected to arrive sometime next year as a 2017 model. While this isn’t the first time that spy photographers have caught the new minivan driving around the country, what sparked my interest here was the “EV” sticker on the back – providing a hint of the electrified powertrain under all that camouflage.

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Chrysler has already confirmed plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation Chrysler Town & Country minivan, but other than that no real details have been released. Back in the 1980s Chrysler invented the minivan segment with the Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth minivans. Since then the segment has largely cooled off with the arrival of the crossover segment, but could Chrysler reinvigorate the minivan with the all-new Town & Country? With the arrival of plug-in hybrid crossovers it was only a matter of time until an automaker released an electric minivan and Chrysler seems set to become the first with the Town & Country plug-in hybrid.

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We have yet to receive any official specs about the Town & Country plug-in hybrid minivan, but Chrysler brand chief Al Gardiner did tell The Detroit News that it will be a game changer. “If we can produce something that is incredibly efficient, that you can 30, 40 miles with zero tank of gas — that will you get a combined — let’s call it 75, 80 eMPG — it’s a game changing number.”

The Town & Country plug-in hybrid will be Chrysler’s first in house hybrid. You might remember that Chrysler once offered hybrid versions of the Aspen and Dodge Durango SUVs but that hybrid system was part of a collaboration with GM and BMW that was short lived. The Town & Country’s plug-in hybrid powertrain is also expected to be offered in a new Dodge crossover.

+ Chrysler