Ramcharger Takes A Belt And Suspenders Approach To Electric Pickup Trucks
There are two kinds of pickup truck drivers — wannabe cowboys who pride themselves on looking powerful behind the wheel and those who make a living by hauling stuff and towing stuff. Ram is conflicted about how to jump into the EV revolution with its pickup trucks, so it has decided to hedge its bets with the all new Ramcharger.
Last spring, Ram responded to the Ford F-150 Lightning and Chevy Silverado EV by saying it too would have a battery powered pickup truck coming along soon — assuming 2025 fits your definition of soon. Called the Ram 1500 REVolution, it promises a 229 kWh battery and 500 miles of range. But let’s be honest. Carrying a ton of stuff in the load bed or towing a travel trailer knocks the hell out of any range claim.
It’s the same for conventional pickup trucks. I have a colleague who drives a Ford F-150 with the EcoBoost V-6 engine. He claims to get 22 mpg on the highway. But when he hooks up his 32′ travel trailer twice a year, he is lucky to get 8 mpg with a tailwind. So let’s not pretend those pickups you see hauling stuff and towing stuff are getting great gas mileage. They’re not and if their owners tell you they are, they’re lying.
Still, that 500 mile range assumes ideal conditions — mild temperatures, level ground, a top speed of 55 mph, a full battery, and a willingness to drain the battery down to zero before recharging. In the real world, driving 75 on the superslab and leaving a 20% cushion for the unexpected, most drivers will be lucky to go 300 miles before recharging. Now 300 miles is nothing to sneeze at when you are driving a vehicle that has the aerodynamic efficiency of a garage door, but hook a trailer up to it and watch the range meter sag toward the 150 mile mark — or less, depending on terrain and temperature.
Meet The Ramcharger
That’s the reality and it’s why many prospective pickup truck buyers are skittish about buying a battery electric model. For those people, Ram has come up with a brilliant solution — the Ramcharger 1500. It is built on exactly the same chassis as the REVolution 1500 except instead of 500 miles from a 229 kWh battery, it has a projected range of 145 miles from either a 98 kWh battery (Autoblog) or a 71 kWh battery (Car and Driver).
But here’s the big news about the Ramcharger. It will come with the tried and true Pentastar 3.6 liter V-6 engine, a version of which is part of the Pacifica plug-in hybrid package. That engine is not connected to the wheels. It’s sole job is to power a 130 kW generator that feeds electrons to the battery while driving. That’s why Ram says the Ramcharger has a projected range of 690 miles, or as Ram CEO Tim Kuniskis says, “Range anxiety, gone.”
The Ramcharger uses 400 volt electrical architecture and can charge at up to 145 kilowatts, which Ram says can add 50 miles of range in 10 minutes. At home, most people will use the truck’s Level 2 (240V) charger rated at up to 11 kilowatts. It also has a mobile charging station with bi-directional capability that provides a maximum of 7.2 kW of exportable power. Accessible through the charge port or the power panel in the cargo bed, the Ram’s onboard generator is like those found on the Ford F-150 hybrid and F-150 Lightning pickups.
Massive Power And Towing Capacity
The Ramcharger is no wimp. Ram says its new electric pickup truck will produce 663 horsepower and 615 lb.-ft of torque. That should be good enough to propel it to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds — which is just 0.2 seconds slower than a Dodge Challenger Scat Pack. Power comes from dual motors. The front unit produces 250 kW (335 horsepower) and the rear another 238 kW (320 hp).
But wait, truck fans. It gets better. The Ramcharger has a maximum tow rating of 14,000 pounds. The current Ram 1500 is “limited” to 12,750 pounds. The maximum payload is 2.625 pounds. Put it all together and you have a serious pickup truck for serious pickup truck drivers, one that can out-work, out-haul, and out-tow just about any other light duty pickup truck on the market. It just happens to have a “no excuses” all electric powertrain.
Ramcharger Is A True PHEV
In effect, the Ramcharger is a grown up version of the Chevy Volt — a full fledged plug-in hybrid with enough battery-only range to make driving on electrons instead of molecules possible — assuming people bother to plug it in regularly.
Here at CleanTechnica global headquarters, we tend to view pickup trucks with a jaundiced eye. We just aren’t pickup people, but the Ramcharger gets us excited. Yes, we know. It’s stupid, wasteful, and inefficient to have both a battery and an engine. But if that is what it takes to get some gas hog pickups off the road, we say, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
Particularly when a divide is developing between drivers in red states and drivers in blue states when it comes to the EV revolution. What an opportunity this is for those who are skeptical about EVs to experience for themselves the otherworldly power and torque of an electric vehicle, the joys of regenerative braking (especially when towing a trailer), the pleasure of lower fuel costs, and the satisfaction of reduced maintenance expenses.
Ger some of those EV skeptics into a Ramcharger and let them spread the word to other pickup truck owners that they can have it all — big power with no range anxiety. Call us crazy, but we think the Ramcharger will be a transformative vehicle, one that finally silences all the critics who say the words “electric” and “pickup truck” should never be used in the same sentence. In fact, we think this plug-in hybrid from Ram may prove to be more important than the Tesla Cybertruck.
Why? We know lots of people will disagree, but the Ramcharger (just like the Silverado and F-150) has been carefully honed to meet the needs and desires of pickup truck buyers. Tens of thousands of hours have been invested in market research.
The Cybertruck breaks every rule. Some will be attracted by those differences but most truck buyers prefer a vehicle that is familiar. If you didn’t know the Ramcharger was a PHEV, there is nothing about its looks that gives away the secret of what lies beneath that rugged exterior. In fact it looks almost identical to the regular Ram 1500. Only some unique exterior touches identify it as something special.
If we worked at Ford or General Motors, we would be seriously worried about the Ramcharger. GM in particular should be embarrassed that it failed to capitalize on the Voltec PHEV package that made the Volt such a good car. That is so typical of GM, which over and over and over again comes up with marvels of engineering that get disappeared by senior managers who are too timid to boldly go where no car company has gone before.
We predict the Ramcharger will run the table and leave the competition — including the Cybertruck — in the dust. Will that happen? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.
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