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PHOTO CAPTION: Dodge Durango Hybrid program was cancelled in late 2008.

RAM Won't Build Hybrid Trucks, But...

After taking $48 million in taxpayer funds, Chrysler says it has no plans to build a hybrid truck... but a plug-in isn't out of the question

Published: 16-Feb-2011

CORRECTED 19:00 16Feb2011

Despite taking $48 million in federal research funding, Chrysler's RAM pickup truck division won't be building any hybrid, plug-in or otherwise, anytime soon, according to reports out of the Washington, D.C. Auto Show here the first prototype was on display. Fred Diaz, the president & CEO of Ram is quoted as saying "Truckers don’t want to buy hybrids," states another web site.

Turns out that other web site got it wrong. Way wrong. After writing this report, a spokesperson for Electrovaya called EV World to let us know that the report on the other site was factually incorrect. While Ram has not plans to build a hybrid pickup version, a plug-in model is definitely still on the table.

The plug-in Ram project, developed in collaboration with lithium polymer battery maker Electrovaya, aimed to demonstrate an plug-in pickup equipped with a 12kWh battery pack that offered extended electric range capability similar to the approach offered by the Chevrolet Volt. The pickup could, in theory, operate as both an electric vehicle or as a normal hybrid.

A total of 140 test vehicles are to be built under the program. Electrovaya announced it has just delivered its second battery pack to Chrysler.

To date, the only carmaker to offer a production hybrid pickup is General Motors, developing the mild-hybrid Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra Hybrids, neither of which have sold in profitable numbers. Diaz corrected the author of the original report, noting "hybrid truck sales failed miserably because of the extremely high cost and reduced towing and hauling capability."

As Diaz points out, a significant reason for a lack of hybrid pickup truck models has to do with the fact that they are operated under different load conditions than passenger cars, often pulling trailers or hauling heavy loads in their truck beds. Auto engineers have told EV World.com on previous occasions that developing a practical hybrid drive for pickups represents a significant engineering challenge. That did not, however, prevent Chrysler, which killed its own ENV electric vehicle development group in 2009, from taking federal dollars. Chrysler cancelled its short-lived Durango Hybrid program prior to declaring bankruptcy. It presently has no immediate vehicle electrification roadmap other than partnering with Fiat on an electric version of the Fiat 500 minicar and the 140 vehicle electric hybrid Ram demonstration program.

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