Stellantis is set to electrify its Ram pickup truck range with the introduction of a previously undisclosed plug-in hybrid model, named the Ramcharger, as part of a comprehensive strategy aimed at reducing the CO2 emissions of its North American fleet.
In a significant shift, the iconic Hemi V-8 engine will be phased out of 2025-model light-duty Ram pickup trucks. In its place, Stellantis will offer a selection of six-cylinder combustion engines, bolstered by the forthcoming battery-electric Ram REV and the Ramcharger, which marks a fresh entry into the hybrid pickup segment.
The move toward offering more hybrid and electric trucks while enhancing the fuel efficiency of Ram combustion models is a crucial endeavor for Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler. The automaker has been grappling with penalties for non-compliance with U.S. emissions standards and faces increasingly stringent regulations.
Notably, the Hemi V-8 engine will still find a place in Ram heavy-duty trucks, but future production plans for light-duty Ram Classic trucks, which are based on previous generation Ram designs, remain undisclosed. At present, Hemi engines are available in select Ram Classic models.
The plug-in hybrid Ramcharger, anticipated to hit the market by 2025, reflects a calculated bet that many customers loyal to Detroit brands may not yet be prepared to embrace fully electric pickups, such as the Tesla Cybertruck, Rivian R1T, Ford's F-150 Lightning, or General Motors' all-electric Chevy Silverado.
Both GM and Ford have adjusted their production plans for electric trucks in response to demand that has fallen short of initial expectations.
For the immediate future, the majority of Ram trucks will continue to rely on combustion engines. Starting in the first quarter of 2024, the longstanding eight-cylinder Hemi, a linchpin in light-duty Ram pickup marketing since 2003, will be gradually phased out. Instead, the 2025 light-duty Ram trucks will be powered by 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder “Hurricane” engines, including a variant boasting 540 horsepower, or an older 3.6-liter V-6, according to Ram officials.
This move harks back to a time when inline six-cylinder engines were commonplace in U.S. pickup trucks. However, market demands for increased power prompted Detroit automakers to shift to V-8 engines in the 1980s and 1990s. Presently, they are revisiting smaller, high-output engines and electrified powertrains to align with stricter CO2 emissions standards.
Ford, for example, announced in September its plans to offer hybrid powertrains for up to 20% of its redesigned F-150 lineup.
General Motors currently provides four-cylinder and eight-cylinder gas engines and a diesel powertrain for its Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. While GM is actively scaling up the production of all-electric Silverado and Sierras, it has yet to outline plans for hybrid models.
In addition to the Ramcharger, Stellantis has previously disclosed its intentions to introduce an all-electric Ram pickup known as the Ram REV, with a launch scheduled for late 2024. Stellantis executives emphasize that the Ramcharger presents a more accessible and practical alternative for customers who seek improved fuel economy but retain concerns about driving range, access to charging infrastructure, and towing capabilities.
The Ramcharger is designed to employ a six-cylinder gasoline engine as a generator for recharging its 92 kWh battery pack. In contrast, the all-electric Ram REV is equipped with a larger 168 kWh battery pack in its base model, coming at a premium cost.
“Think of the cost per kilowatt-hour,” remarked Ram brand chief Tim Kuniskis, without disclosing specific figures.