If ever a vehicle needed a hybrid version, it’s the American pickup. Ram built 140 plug-in pickups with a 20 mile EV range and 65% better fuel economy for testing with fleet operators. But will it ever come to market?
Chrysler made the Ram plug-in pickup public at the DC Auto Show, where it revealed a two-mode hybrid transmission linked to a 12 kWh lithium-ion Electrovaya battery pack. This battery pack can supply up to 20 miles of all-electric driving, which is mighty impressive if you ask me. That’s because trucks are better platforms for hybrids than cars are; they’re higher off the ground, there is a lot more “unused” space, which means less cramming of hybrid components and a bigger battery pack. Plus, the Ram still has its 5.7 liter HEMI V8 engine, so all the extra hybrid equipment won’t really cut into performance.
Supposedly, the hybrid drivetrain delivers a whooping 65% improvement to gas mileage during the average driving cycle. That would mean the Ram’s 14/20 2wd rating could be more like 23/33…in a full-size pickup truck. That’s a real game changer folks. But it’s going to be up to Chrysler to build these trucks up to snuff. If the hybrid pickups can’t handle the abuse the average owner puts his truck through, then what good is it?
If I were a small-business owner who relied on a fleet of pickup trucks, you better believe I’d be eyeing the hybrid models with better gas mileage. It might come at a price premium, but all that extra money I’d be saving on gas would mean more money in my pocket and for expanding my business. Maybe I could get back my small portion of the $48 million the Department of Energy shelled out for this hybrid project.
All Chrysler has to do is prove they’re reliable in the real world, which is why they’re sending the vehicles out to fleet operators for some hands-on time. and sell the damn things to make a mint. Chrysler has a head start in the hybrid pickup market at this point, as Ford and GM are concentrating on fuel-efficient cars, and they need to capitalize on it by selling high-MPG hybrid Ram pickups at a profit. Even if there isn’t a demand for such a vehicle right now, we all know there will be demand as gas prices keep creeping skyward.
Then, the truck with the most MPG’s, wins.
Source: Green Car Advisor
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMI’s. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.