Ram Trucks Pull the Plug on Hybrids
Fred Diaz, president and CEO of Ram, Chrysler’s stand-alone truck brand, told PluginCars.com that the company had no plans to produce any hybrid trucks beyond its current government-funded program. “Truckers don’t want to buy hybrids,” he said pointedly.
Diaz added that Ram did expect to take away some “learning about technology” from the program, but said that hybrids would not be brought to market. The company displayed a prototype of its plug-in hybrid Ram pickup at the Washington DC Auto Show in January and said the first fleet deliveries of the 140 units would take place this summer.
Canadian battery manufacturer Electrovaya has been working with Chrysler on a prototype plug-in hybrid Ram pickup truck using Electrovaya's 12 kWh lithium-ion "SuperPolymer" battery system that the company says will give 20 miles of EV-only mileage. The petrol part of the drivetrain is a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. Development of the PHEV Ram is part to a $48 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act DOE Vehicle Electrification Program and a $5 million grant from the Canadian government.
Chrysler started announcing plans for a Ram Hybrid soon after hybrids were introduced nearly a decade ago. In March 2010, the company finally decided to kill plans for a 2011 Dodge Ram Hybrid—although it was only too happy to pursue a plug-in hybrid variety, even if only long enough to utilize the $48 million dollar grant. When the grant was announced, Paolo Ferrero, senior vice president of powertrain for Chrysler, said, “This initiative represents how government, automotive industry, suppliers and key partners are reaching common goals and demonstrates how rapidly this type of advanced technology can be brought to market.” Repeat: Brought to market.
When I asked Diaz about technologies Ram will use to meet increasing fuel economy standards for trucks, he responded that Chrysler’s new relationship with Fiat brought with it the potential to add a variety of technologies as well as new vehicles. “We need to be in a position to address higher fuel economy standards,” Diaz said, but not with plug-in hybrids.
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