(USA TODAY/Eric Lawrence) – Get ready for an electric Ram pickup.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Mike Manley confirmed on Wednesday that Ram will join the rush to produce an electric truck, an area that promises robust competition with Ford, General Motors, Tesla, Rivian and Lordstown Motors already planning to launch their own models.
Manley didn’t provide any details, but his announcement during the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call provided clarity to an area of intense speculation.
“I do see that there will be an electrified Ram pickup in the marketplace, and I would ask you just to stay tuned for a little while, and we’ll tell you exactly when that will be,” Manley said in answering an analyst’s question on the topic.
That statement highlights the pressure FCA is under to get an electric offering into the highly profitable pickup segment, an area crucial to the fortunes of the Detroit Three.
Just three months ago, Manley was less specific.
“Obviously, pickup trucks is a key franchise for us, and we’re not going to sit on the sideline if there is a danger that our position gets diluted going forward,” he said during the second-quarter earnings call.
The news from Manley came in the same week GM announced a more than $100,000 price tag for its GMC Hummer electric pickup. Ford recently said it would build a new plant to produce an electric F-150.
FCA, which long resisted an electrification push, has begun to aggressively tout its plans, which include a Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in electric hybrid.
However, the company is still solidly promoting its internal combustion engine offerings, as exemplified most recently by the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. It’s certainly a beast, promising 702 horsepower, but it’s also a fuel glutton, with a combined city and highway fuel economy estimate of 12 miles per gallon.
Industry expert Rebecca Lindland said planning to make an electric truck is understandable for FCA.
“Given the improvement we’re seeing in battery capacity and charging ability, combined with ongoing regulatory mandates from large markets such as California, this is both a potentially very necessary and very strategic move by Ram. There’s a good possibility the first iterations will be PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), and an on-board battery in a pickup could be used for all sorts of good things like running power tools, serving as a generator, even reverse powering some home appliances in a blackout,” said Lindland, who writes about vehicles at rebeccadrives.com.
She noted that even though electric vehicle demand “wallows in the single digits, we could start to see pull-demand from millennial buyers as EV models penetrate into larger segments like pickup trucks and crossovers, so an electrified Ram pickup makes a lot of sense.”