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Ram 1500 will get hybrid, but diesel is iffy

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler Group will produce a hybrid version of the Ram 1500 pickup, but it has not been determined whether the light truck will have a diesel engine or not. The automaker had previously said both options would be available in 2010.

The hybrid Ram will use the “two-mode” hybrid technology it developed in a partnership with BMW, Daimler and General Motors. GM has already introduced hybrid versions of several of its full-size pickups and SUVs and Chrysler produced hybrid versions of the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango until those vehicles were cancelled. A two-mode hybrid system uses its battery power at low speeds and a conventional gasoline engine kicks when more power is needed for acceleration or heavier loads.

The larger Ram pickups have a diesel option and the majority of purchasers select it instead of the 5.7-liter V8. Diesels offer more torque, better fuel economy and require less maintenance than gasoline engines but are roughly twice as expensive. Buyers of large pickups tend to keep their vehicles longer and put more miles on them so the investment pays off over time. Scott Kunselman, Chrysler senior vice president of engineering, is concerned that people in the market for a light-duty pickup might not make the same value judgment.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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