Report: Ram to Introduce 1500 Electric With Range Extender

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

This week, Stellantis announced the Ram Revolution at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show. Though it was less of an all-electric pickup concept intended to compete on a market that’s about to become saturated with them, and more of a way to engage with consumers on how the truck brand should implement its take on the segment.

To the surprise of everyone working here, Ram’s Revolution turned out to be little more than a market-research campaign designed to ensure the automaker can build an electric truck people actually want to buy. But that doesn’t mean the manufacturer hasn’t already made plans of its own. Ram CEO Mike Koval Jr. has even been sharing some of Stellantis’ electrification strategies, including outfitting some 1500 electric pickups with a range extender.

Details came by way of an interview between occasional TTAC contributor Chad Kirchner, writing for EV Pulse, and Koval from the floors of the Chicago Auto Show:

He tells us that the Ram 1500 electric will “push past” not only the current competition (and competition that will be out by then), but also customer expectations of what an electric truck should be.

While talking about that truck, he also mentioned that along with the fully-electric pickup truck, there will be a “class shattering” range extender version.

While he wouldn’t go into details — executives like to not talk about future product — this is the first that we’ve heard that the Ram would have a range extendible option.

I cannot tell you the number of engineers that have told me managing weight is one of the most difficult problems to solve in terms of mainstreaming electrification. Towing has proven to be particularly troublesome as all-electric powertrains typically aren’t rated for extremely heavy loads. While battery densities have improved, most EVs can expect to lose a meaningful fraction of their normal efficiency when dragging a little weight. On combustion vehicles, this is less of a problem because it’s relatively easy to pull into a station and fuel up. Electrics have to sit around charging a bit longer and normally lack the range of their internal combustion counterparts.

Ram’s solution is to offer the option to equip future electrified pickups with a gas (or diesel) motor that exists solely to recharge the battery. Range extenders haven’t gotten much love in the past. But advocates have claimed that’s because they were going into combustion-based platforms that had been converted into EVs, rather than dedicated electric platforms. The theory is that having a small combustion motor that only activates when more juice is needed will be more efficient than a traditional hybrid.

It’s also likely to cost far less to manufacture than a tow-friendly, plug-in hybrid or simply equipping EVs with a larger battery pack.

Budget is undoubtedly playing a factor here. It always does with manufacturers. But running with a range extender also allows Ram to classify the pickup as a zero-emissions vehicle on several important markets. It’s not, of course, and technically neither are standard EVs that have to source their energy for power stations. But the government doesn’t seem to know that (or just doesn’t care) and is willing to categorize them as superior to internal combustion cars — thereby incurring no additional penance for existing.

I don’t really get it. Wasn’t the whole point of electrification to get away from liquid fuels?

Despite a renewed push for range extenders in Europe, they still lose a meaningful amount of energy through heat and friction. Maybe the next batch improves efficiencies, resulting in something more popular than the Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3. But history has made it hard to envision the technology working on a full-sized pickup. Few companies that were developing range extenders actually put them into their products. That said, it’ll be interesting to see if an old idea can come back from the ashes as a winner.

[Image: Stellantis]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Bill Wade Bill Wade on Feb 13, 2022

    I believe one thing the electric pickup manufacturers have failed to address is charging stations for those that tow. Virtually every one I've seen the cars/trucks pull in nose first. Towing a trailer this is not a good setup. The amount of real estate that it would require for multiple trucks with trailers to recharge would be considerable. Nose first isn't good so it'd have to be pull through. Could you imagine the line of there were a dozen or more vehicles with trailers that needed charging like you see at various truck stops with the diesel pickups and trailers? At least it only take a few minutes to pump 35 gallons of diesel.

  • Mopar4wd Mopar4wd on Feb 15, 2022

    The i3 was knee capped to meet regulations as a pure EV. If you can avoid that and set the range extender to charge based on actual demand and use cases, it seems like it's a pretty good idea.

  • Sobhuza Trooper Like fusion power, the I.D. Buzz is only 30 years away.
  • 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".
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