Traditional trucks with fuel-sipping tech is where FCA is headed

Fiat Chrysler are planning a hybrid version of its popular Ram 1500 full-size pickup truck once the truck enters its next generation for the 2018 model year. The news comes as FCA makes headlines over its revised five-year plan that includes ending production of the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans. CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed to Automotive News that FCA will be making room in its factories for more crossovers and SUVs – a move that is counter to what many automakers are doing in preparation for the looming CAFÉ standards of 2025 and 2050.

However, FCA’s plans for a hybrid Ram 1500, along with other hybrid crossover and SUV models, is the automaker’s path to achieving the government-mandated CAFÉ benchmark. While meeting CAFÉ is obviously imperative, the automaker sees this move as appealing to current market trends and inexpensive fuel – both of which FCA says it views as “permanent” trends.

Market forecasts aside, FCA says it is developing new global small- and medium-engine architectures, along with 48-volt mild hybrid systems, for placement in its upcoming vehicles. Included in the bunch are the next-generation Ram 1500 and Jeep Wrangler.

Further details beyond that are not currently known, but it’s expected that an updated version of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 will debut, boasts a higher compression ratio and more efficient exhaust-gas recirculation system. FCA’s current eight-speed automatic transmission will continue, along with the proliferation of Start/Stop systems in each vehicle. We also expect the Ram’s 3.0-liter EcoDiesel to receive efficiency updates as well.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

Next Ram 1500 Will Go Hybrid
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It’s hard not to question FCA’s motives and tactics with these announcements. When looked at in a vacuum, killing the Dart and 200 makes sense since they are both slow sellers and have never grabbed the market’s attention. Transferring its full attention to trucks, SUVs, and crossovers seems very risky. Sure, the current trend favors the big, thirsty vehicles, especially since gas pieces are steadily falling. But FCA’s certainty that gas prices will remain low seems foolhardy. Gas prices fluctuate, and with the constant unrest in the Middle East, it’s nearly impossible to predict long-term prices. Who would have ever predicted gas would currently be under $2.00 in most of the U.S.?

Those points aside, if FCA can somehow create a fleet of fuel-sipping SUVs and trucks that appeal to consumers, more power to them. Nearly every other automaker is doubling down on hybrid or fully electric vehicles while weaning off larger engines. Which automakers will be right? Only time will tell.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my big SUVs and trucks as much as the next red-blooded America, but the business sense just doesn’t add up for me.

Ram 1500

2015 Ram 1500 Rebel High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Ram 1500 here.

Source: Automotive News

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