Most of America’s largest truck makers are feverishly working on an all-electric pickup, with efforts from GM, Ford and Rivian (and yes, Elon fans, Tesla – eventually). Notably absent from the EV table is Ram, though a talk at last week’s Chicago Auto Show may have provided some insight as to why that is.
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In an interview with Ram boss Mike Koval Jr., industry site EV pulse learned that there will likely be a range-extender variant of the Ram EV in addition to an all-electric version. This technology would certainly go a long way in alleviating overall driving range concerns, especially when it comes to typical trucking work such as hauling cargo or towing a trailer.
For those unfamiliar, a range extender is essentially a petrol engine whose sole job is to charge an electric car’s built-in batteries. This differs from a traditional hybrid (plug-in or not) whose combustion engine tag interacts with the electric motors to move the drive wheels. With a range extender, the power produced by the engine is dumped into the batteries, reducing range anxiety.
These engines are generally not very large; for example, the range-extender option in the BMW i3 added a 647-cc two-banger from an electric scooter. Still, it was enough to do the trick. Don’t expect such a small engine in a Ram 1500 ERX, as the brand still has an image to uphold. A four-banger would of course not be ruled out.
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Two ideas immediately come to the mind of this truck-addicted author. First, a range extender could easily be installed under the hood of a Ram EV since that space already exists to accommodate internal combustion engines. However, it could mean the death of a frunk, a feature that seems to be popular with customers of the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning. Depending on the benefits, it may be worth the trade-off.
Second, range extenders are a bit of a mixed bag, both in terms of marketing and government classification. While the wheels of such a vehicle are always driven by an electric motor, the whole does cause CO2 emissions. Now you could say that those emissions are simply pushed further down, electricity also has to be generated from the wall somewhere. Also, the aforementioned Beemer ran into a problem where he had to limit the amount of fuel his range extender tank could hold. Why? At the time – in America – if its total range exceeds that of its pure EV sibling, it would be classified as a plug-in hybrid, negating those tasty government rebates.
Assuming the last hurdle is cleared, a Ram E-Rex could be a good option for some customers. One thing is certain: the coming years promise to be very interesting in the pick-up market.