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Ram V8 diesel, hybrid details

by David Zatz on

More details have come to light since Fargo pointed us to the Dodge Ram 1500 diesel and hybrid systems on Dodge’s web site.

The Ram 1500 currently sells with either a 545RFE five-speed automatic (standard on V8s) or the four-speed automatic (standard on V6). Gas mileage with the V6 is rated at 14/20 on both V6 and Hemi models; the 4.7 is rated at 14/19, but is a flex fuel vehicle, getting 9/13 on E85.

The hybrid-electric model would likely raise gas mileage on the Hemi model to around 18 city, 21 highway, a substantial increase in city mileage and a very mild increase on the highway (because hybrids increase gas mileage primarily by shutting off the engine when it’s not in use, and by recovering some of the energy lost during braking.) For trucks operated in cities, or in constant stop and go industrial and farm environments, this could be a major advantage, especially if the engine could be used as an efficient generator while the truck is stationary. The system would likely be a refined and updated version of the one used on the 2009 Dodge Durango hybrid.

One advantage of the hybrid system is that it increases available power, by adding the electric motor to the output of the Hemi engine.

The diesel would likely carry a similar price increase, and gas mileage figures of 18 city, 23 highway have been estimated — higher than the hybrid Ram, but with a more expensive (in some areas) fuel, and far lower horsepower ratings, currently estimated at around 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque by those familiar with the powertrain (actual ratings are not likely to appear until engineering work has been finalized; many factors impact the net horsepower and torque may need to be limited, or may change as the engine is tuned.)

Many Ram owners may be able to distill their own biodiesel fuel, if the engine is capable of handling it. Some diesel engines currently conform to emissions rules in ways that prohibit the use of biodiesel except in small proportions.

Both systems would provide superior low end torque, with the electric system having its motors and the diesel having a natural torque peak of around 2,000 rpm. The diesel would likely be extremely sturdy, though not to the extent of the Cummins B engines powering current Ram 2500 through 5500 models.

Coupling the hybrid transmission to the diesel engine may yield better results; it has been used with the Hemi engine in the past largely because, by working with the cylinder shutoff system in the Hemi, the savings could be made greater, to the point where the V8 hybrid equalled or exceeded the efficiency of a V6 hybrid in actual use.

The V8 diesel may be a lower-cost diesel option for the Ram 2500 and 3500 if or when it is released. Many owners do not need the power or longevity of the Cummins B engine; a less expensive, thriftier diesel could be attractive to them.

Chrysler is reportedly working on more advanced power savings systems, and is expected to adapt Fiat natural gas technology in the future.

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