A Ram EV? We'll See How Those Other Guys Manage First, Manley Hints

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Quite suddenly, large electric pickups have become the hottest thing you can’t yet buy. But they’re out there, looming, just waiting to see whether demand for this embyonic segment materializes.

Ford, General Motors, Rivian, Tesla, and Lordstown Motors all have a stake in the game, with the next two years promising to reveal exactly how much pent-up thirst exists for these battery-bound behemoths. Watching from the sidelines is Fiat Chrysler, an automaker whose historical aversion to EVs is a matter of record.

Not surprisingly, FCA plans to take a wait-and-see approach.

Asked about the ambitions of FCA’s rivals during an earnings call this week, CEO Mike Manley didn’t hop on board the gotta-have-an-EV-truck bandwagon. He’ll catch the ride if it proves itself worthwhile, not before.

“Pickup is a key franchise for us and we’re not going to sit on the sidelines if there’s a danger that our position gets diluted,” Manley said, per Bloomberg.

For now, the automaker is content to offer two flavors of full-size Ram, one old, one new, with heavy duty models rounding out the stable. A midsize would be nice, but that possible project’s still cloaked in uncertainty. For now, the Ram 1500 Classic, soon to enter its third year of production, serves those looking to spend less.

At least for now, it beats spending precious dollars on a costly development program with an uncertain payoff.

Despite unkind words spoken by former CEO Sergio Marchionne about the former Fiat 500e, FCA isn’t uninterested in electrification. Mild hybrids already abound in the cash-cow Ram and Jeep brands. The global popularity of its Jeep brand depends on widespread hybrid availability, and that’s just what the brand is going to get. While electrified Renegades and Compasses will tempt buyers mainly on the east side of the Atlantic, larger models like the next-generation Grand Cherokee also stand to go green. Count the upcoming Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer among that cohort, along with the looming plug-in Wrangler.

FCA’s merger partner, Groupe PSA, revealed a new modular electric vehicle platform this week, stating that it should find its way beneath compact and midsize vehicles by 2023. If FCA needs any more non-pickup EV help in the future, the platform’s there for the taking.

Of course, should demand for big EV pickups take off, there’s always the possibility of tapping Rivian for its in-house skateboard platform, saving the automaker time and R&D costs. Ford went its own way with the F-150 EV, so the two wouldn’t be platform buddies.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Aug 03, 2020

    They are already diluting their position by continuing to sell the Classic and not updating the 3/4 ton and up trucks.

  • Teddyc73 Teddyc73 on Aug 03, 2020

    "Not surprisingly, FCA plans to take a wait-and-see approach." Then if approved we will get a delay-and-wait approach.

  • Lou_BC "respondents between 18 and 80 years old" Basically anyone deemed an adult who might be allowed to drive.
  • Lou_BC They will do fine if they come up with some cool sedans ;)
  • Mister They've got their work cut out for them. I live in a large metropolitan city of 1.2+ million people, the is a single Mitsubishi dealer. It's really more like a used-car dealer that sells Mitsubishi on the side. With the remarkably cheesy name of "Johnny Legends".
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh WHAT !?
  • Jeff Matt--I think this is a good move for Mitsubishi to expand their presence with satellite dealers. I had a 85 MItsubishi Mighty Max and my sister had a 83 MItsubishi Starion. MItsubishi needs to add a compact pickup to compete with the Maverick and the Santa Cruz but offer it for less. A smaller more affordable truck will sell. I believe MItsubishi should still offer an inexpensive subcompact like the Mirage it will sell in a slowing car market with high msrps. Yes I know the Mirage is probably going to be canceled but I believe in these times it is a mistake and they should reconsider cancelling the Mirage. Toyota is having problems selling the new redesigned Tacomas and Tundras with the turbo 4s and 6s. Most Tacomas have MSRPs of well over 40k. There is room for MItsubishi to grow their market share with more affordable vehicles. I am not saying Mitsubishi is going to overtake Toyota, Honda, or Nissan but they should take advantage of the more affordable market segment that these companies for the most part have abandoned. MItsubishi doesn't have to be the biggest just increase sales and become more profitable.