Ram has just unveiled a new electric car, or rather a new version of its flagship pickup, which features a very special plug-in hybrid engine. If the brand claims to have solved a major problem with the 100% electric version (autonomy), we rather think that it does not meet any needs…
Pick-up in the United States is a religion. The Ford F-150 has held the top spot for bestsellers for years and sells several hundred thousand units per year, while the competition is undeterred. This does not mean that this body is impervious to developments in the automotive sector, and 100% electric versions have started to appear: the Tesla Cybertruck, of course, but also the F-150 Lightning from Ford or the Ram 1500 REV.
And it’s the latter that interests us today…or almost, since the brand has just presented a rechargeable hybrid version in parallel. Or rather, an electric version with a range extender as we can read in the press release.
Amazing technical characteristics
And Ram doesn’t go easy on the numbers: with its two electric motors, the Ram 1500 Ramcharger (since that’s its name) offers up to 663 hp of power and 834 Nm of torque, enough to be able to tow up to 6.35 tonnes of payload!
A battery of 91 gross kWh (71 useful kWh) powers all these little people; a capacity significantly lower than the 100% electric version (233 kWh!!), but a thermal engine serving as a generator recharges it internally when it is flat. In other words, there is no mechanical connection between this engine and the wheels, much like in the days of the range-extender BMW i3 REX.
But where the little BMW used a motorcycle twin-cylinder, Ram sees things big by entrusting this task to a huge gasoline V6. We might expect excessive power given the size of the engine, but this is not the case: only 174 hp is available.
Let’s keep in mind that it is not necessarily necessary to produce more: as we have seen, this engine is only used to generate electricity and not to directly move the car forward. In fact, if Ram announces a battery range of 233 km, the gasoline engine adds an additional 877 km, or more than 1,100 km in total.
These figures are certainly tempting, but everything is not so rosy. First of all, consumption is very high: count 30.4 kWh/100 km for electric and even 11.7 l/100 km for the gasoline engine! A very surprising result: as the engine runs only to supply electricity to the battery, it runs at a stabilized and hyper-optimized speed; we could therefore logically expect much lower consumption.
Second problem: the electric Ram 1500 takes advantage of the disappearance of its thermal engine to transform its front hood into a second trunk, as spacious as it is practical; an advantage lost on this hybrid version. Too bad for the practicality of the model, although it is geared towards professional tasks.
A model not really in tune with the times
According to the brand, this Ramcharger meets a very specific request from its customers: being able to tow a lot and for a long time. We rather think that the brand is surfing on the range anxiety (fear of breakdown) by playing on the fear of not finding a charging station on your way. A fear that is less and less justified, with the number of fast terminals constantly increasing — especially since the 100% electric version, with its 800 km of autonomy, has plenty to see coming.
The other blocking point is at the ecological level: burning more than 11 liters of gasoline in 100 km simply to maintain a constant charge level is absolute nonsense. Worse still, more and more studies agree that plug-in hybrid cars are rarely recharged in real life; From there, the car risks dragging a heavy battery which serves no purpose except to further increase its consumption. The European Union understands this well and intends to tighten the screws on this type of engine, currently subject to tax exemptions.