By on January 16, 2018

Earlier today, we found out that the 2019 Ram 1500 will be offered with a mild hybrid option dubbed eTorque. Official fuel economy figures are not out yet, but FCA estimates the hybrid system should show around a 10 percent improvement over current figures. The system employs a motor-generator driven off the crankshaft that is similar to the GM BAS system in some ways.

The novel part of the Ram system is that it does not require liquid cooling on the V8 version and is instead air-cooled, which should reduce costs significantly.

The motor-generator is mounted in front of the intake manifold on the eight-cylinder version and runs off the crankshaft via an eight-rib belt that is similar to something you might find on a supercharged engine. The traditional belt tensioner is replaced by a high pressure unit that is very similar to the one used on the GM BAS system and will likely require a hold-down tool for belt removal. The 48-volt system feeds power to a small 0.3 kWh NMC battery pack mounted on the back wall of the cab.

One major benefit of this type of system is that it fits in the same space as a traditional alternator, so packaging is not significantly affected. Air-cooling takes it a step further, since it eliminates coolant lines that would have to be snaked around the engine, and it reduces costs at the same time, allowing for a wider range of deployment. The motor electronics appear to be contained fully on top of the motor and covered by an aluminum heatsink; the only external connection is a single harness that runs back to the battery box.

The air-cooled motor was developed by Magneti Marelli, according to a patent application filed in November. The application states that the system employs a shaft-mounted fan that is internal to the motor case, which works in conjunction with the heatsink mounted on top without requiring the deployment of a liquid cooling system. In some versions of the system, two internal fans are deployed so that one cools the motor section while the other cools the power electronics mounted on top.

Although a power figure for the motor was not shared, we can deduce that is less than 12 kw (16 horsepower) based on the description on the Magneti Marelli page (which states that MM motors above 12 kw use water cooling, while all of the air-cooled motors are rated for less than that). This also means the motor on the V6 version is likely more powerful, as it does employ a liquid cooling system.

I expect the V6 version will see a larger benefit while the V8 version will be easier and cheaper to maintain down the road. Both version should offer some improvement and we look forward to seeing the official ratings soon.

[Images: Bozi Tatarevic/TTAC, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office]

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46 Comments on “Ram Deploys Unique Air-cooled Motor-Generator System...”


  • avatar

    12KW of DC power is quite a bit I wonder how big the 12V converter is? Lots of RV guys and work truck guys like big alternators to charge RV batteries and run equipment If the converter is large enough you could have substantial power now.

  • avatar
    arach

    Correction:
    The novel part of the Ram system is that it does not require liquid cooling on the V8 version and is instead air-cooled, which should reduce costs significantly.

    To:
    The novel part of the Ram system is that it does not require liquid cooling on the V8 version and is instead air-cooled, which should increase CDJR Margins at the expense of durability.

    I wonder if the real benefit of the V8 system is really the improved stop/start functionality, moreso than looking for any real performance boost.

    I’m also intrigued by the suggestion that the aircooled unit make minimize costs over time?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The application of this system gives the benefit of CAFE credit for the use of Stop/Start, as well as credit on the Monroney. They say this version will be able to apply 130 ft-lb of torque to the powertrain, which would be fairly significant in the low RPM range where the engine makes nowhere near peak torque. Both liquid and air cooled versions are tested to the same durability standard, it’s likely that the V6 version is water cooled because of a greater anticipated duty cycle.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      The engineer at the intro at the off site Dodge (I watched an interview on youtube) event said it would make start/stop faster and reduce the lag sensation (.4 second restarts)-it sounded like you’d start moving before the engine starts but I lost that detail. In 4 cylinder mode it will add some power at light increased throttle situations so it doesn’t kick back into 8 cylinder mode as fast. There’s a traditional starter too for cold weather situations.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I suspect that the air cooled system will be problematic in hotter climates where under hood temps can rise significantly. The air intake is in the front of the unit from my interpretation of the diagram and it will be getting air that has passed through the radiator.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I’m interested to see how this system will accelerate with my 8500lb trailer attached. They say it can apply 90-130 lb-ft of torque depending on the model, that extra grunt would be welcome. Bonus if I can recover that energy on the many long down slopes in the Rocky Mountains.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The battery pack is too small to recover the kind of energy that it could generate on a long mountain down slope. Heck traditional hybrids with much larger battery packs and much lower kinetic energy can top up the battery in much less than a mile.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Is it worth the added complexity so your 15 MPG truck can get 16.5 MPG?
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Thats $3,800 in savings over 250k miles my friend…

      But the real benefit is all the other parents at my daughters school will know I both drive a sweet truck AND I’m pro environment which will assure I am the coolest of cool.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Depends. What’s the added up front costs? What’s the service life? Is there a reasonable ROI?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      So the company can reduce exposure to CAFE fines. It’s optional on the V8, so we’ll see if consumers buy the benefits there.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      If it means the under $100k V8 doesn’t get regulated away, yes.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “Is it worth the added complexity so your 15 MPG truck can get 16.5 MPG?”

      You never took math or statistics in school, did you.

      Making 10% improvement in one leap is huge in engineering.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        Only if there’s an ROI on that 10% improvement.

        It will be interesting to see. I’d probably use 200k miles as the expected life of the vehicle and hybrid system for my own calculations though. So $3000 according to arach’s estimate.

        Can it be expected to be completely reliable for that period, and will it add cost to the inevitable belt and tensioner replacements within that period? I’m pretty conservative when it comes to adding complexity to a vehicle. I’d probably want the thing to pay back within five years to invest in such a thing myself, but a payback of up to ten years could be seen as a reasonable time frame for the less technologically-averse buyer.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I love technology like this. It is applicable in real world settings. One of the features I liked about the GM Hybrid Tahoe was it could go up to 20 mph or so on battery power. For those who live in rural America this is not as useful. If, however, you drive in L.A traffic, or even Denver traffic you can spend a fair amount of time each day idling away at 5 mph. The more vehicles that can do this on battery the better the air quality will be and we don’t have sacrifice on the alter of Prius.

    I can’t imagine this system is a $3500 option or addition to the MSRP. The technology appears from this article to be fairly simple really and can be used across the model line ups. I would be surprised if this system does not make its way into all Fiatsler product.

    • 0 avatar
      Tinn-Can

      I believe so as well. I’ve always thought the Honda IMA system should have been duplicated on more vehicles. Just a little boost in the least efficient areas and the ability to get away instantly from a a stoplight while the motor fires back up for the start stop. I wonder how the belt drive will hold up. I guess the GM version was fairly reliable since i haven’t heard much about it other than cost and relative little return for huge investment.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yes but the Tahoe 2-Mode system was not a BAS system, this will not allow an EV mode.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        I was figuring this was more of a stop start technology as well. I was thinking/hoping/surmising that if the electric motor was connected to the crank shaft and had the torque quoted it could conceivably turn the crank, and if the vehicle was in gear it would move forward or backward depending on the gear. Not sure a belt driven system would be able to handle that, plus the valves would need to be open to allow for no compression. I suppose it is feasible if the oil pump works of the crank as well.

        Perhaps I should just stick to my non-engineering of any sort job…

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yes this system could propel the vehicle in a limited fashion. However as you point out it would be cranking the engine and working against all that compression reducing the actual power that could make it to the wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Scout- If there were any advantages to the older system over this new one– I’m fairly certain they’d have used the one from the Aspen/Durango Hybrid.

        You do remember Chrysler helped engineer the system you’re talking about, right?

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          There are numerous advantages to the 2-Mode system, however it was not developed by in part by Chrysler it was developed in part by Damiler-Chrysler. The rights to that IP may not have transferred to Cerebus and thus may not be held by FCA.

          Even if FCA does own the right to use the IP there is still the fact that they probably don’t have access to the tooling.

          Even if they did have the tooling and IP there is the big factor and that is cost. It was much more expensive to produce and it would be more expensive to engineer the installation of it into the truck than this simple BAS system.

  • avatar
    lne937s

    I hope they upgraded the AC compressor as well. That is a lot of additional belt tension to wear out the bearings. I wonder why they did this instead of a separate belt just for the motor/generator…

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’m greatly hoping this means any future Charger/Challenger/Cuda/300 keeps a mid-level V8 offering instead of going Turbo-6.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      If you look at the mileage requirements for those vehicles, you’ll realize they are on death watch. Fullsize sedans will require full hybridization because CAFE 2025 requires combined figures in excess of 30mpg.

      The crusade against fullsize American sedans continues unabated. Without changes to CAFE, only expensive luxury sedans will exist in the fullsize sedan segment.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I see a big connector for the controls on the side near the throttle body, even though there is not a harness plugged into it.

    The big reason for this is the CAFE credits that it will generate. Just like GM’s ill fated system it will not boost the real world numbers much due to the limited storage capabilities of that small 48v battery pack, and the fact that it can’t provide propulsion or recapture energy w/o the engine turning.

    I suspect unless they virtually give the system away, which wouldn’t be surprising because FCA being the biggest buyer of credits, it will be a flop, just like other BAS/mild hybrids.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      They could end up “giving it away” – force the dealer to take so many units with the system. Not enough fuel saving to make truck guys bite. Big incentives on the hood until the transaction price reaches a level people are willing to pay.

  • avatar
    BlythBros

    The traditional tensioner is not replaced, it’s complemented. You can see a traditional tensioner in the photos. A motor-generator can reverse load on belt depending on whether it’s adding or pulling power, so tensioners would have to address both scenarios.

  • avatar
    stuki

    A little bit more battery, and there would be enough for a simple “get unstuck and out of a ditch then turn off” electric 4wd system; which is all the 4wd many require from their truck and (C/S)UV…..

  • avatar
    TW5

    Earlier this decade, I was convinced that manufacturers were going to force us to buy strong-hybrid systems on all of our vehicles, though they are not necessary to meet CAFE 2025, nor are they desirable for many consumers who want reliability and lower MSRP.

    The oil price collapse of 2014 seems to be pushing the industry towards a more reasonable mild-hybrid strategy. Most vehicles will only need mild hybrid to meet their mileage targets, and this new air-cooled system by Magnetti Marelli is more good news for people who prefer simplicity.

  • avatar

    So its a super-duper alternator?

  • avatar

    Okay, I’m not getting something. Let me try to break this down.

    – This thing sits in the front of the engine
    – The engine drives it via the serpentine belt
    – At cruise or on overrun, it draws power to a 48V battery pack and also acts as an alternator.
    – On acceleration (especially from a stop), it supplies torque to the SERPENTINE BELT and thus to the crank shaft, spinning the engine and thus the transmission.
    – It also spins the engine for start/stop operation.

    Am I missing something?

    This seems like a huge step backward from the systems that sit between the engine and transmission, though I guess getting an alternator and 48V electrical system out of it is somewhat elegant (?)

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      “This seems like a huge step backward from the systems that sit between the engine and transmission,…”

      It’s a low tech solution because the big three doesn’t know how to invent anything elegant. Note that it’s made by a sub-contractor.
      .
      .

      • 0 avatar

        A little bit both cost saving and conservatism. These systems bolt onto existing products much less engineering and tooling then other solutions. That same bolt on approach means it’s easier to work the hybrid versions into the production schedule. Plus you always have the fear that a big investment won’t pay off.
        On the flip side GM did spend quite a bit of time engineering and testing these systems 10-15 years ago so it’s not exactly a freebie. Kind of just lower hanging fruit.

        • 0 avatar
          iNeon

          Repeating onesself is fun!

          Chrysler already engineered a full-hybrid that c/wouldn’t scale.

          This one does what it does the way it does because, while not everyone’s going to buy an expensive hybrid– everyone’s going to buy a hybrid.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Repeated oneself is fun.

            This is FCA, not Chrysler, not Cerebus and not Daimler-Chrysler the company that actually participated in the 2-Mode hybrid development.

            They don’t have the tooling and probably don’t have the right to use the IP of that system. So even though it is far superior to a BAS system it would be much more expensive to put into production and FCA is looking for the cheapest way out of their CAFE problem.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Magneti Marelli is in orbit int the FIAT solar system, not exactly a subcontractor. For now.

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