Stellantis Unveils First Ram Electric Pickup at CES
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Stellantis NV offered a glimpse of the first electric pickup from its Ram brand as the automaker aims to move from laggard to leader in the increasingly competitive field of plug-in trucks.
The Revolution, a concept vehicle unveiled Jan. 5 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is slated to start production in 2024, roughly two years behind rivals. But while the company didn’t provide details on pricing and range, Mike Koval, head of the Ram brand, said it will deliver on the attributes truck buyers care about most — from towing and payload to charging time.
“Everything our customers see from Ram in the future will be a direct descendant of this Ram Revolution concept,” Koval said in an interview. With the advantage of time, “we will push past what our competitors have announced.”
The pickup is a key test for an automaker trying to transform itself from an EV skeptic that produced some of the thirstiest gas guzzlers on the road to a serious electric competitor. It will be going up against established competitors, including Ford Motor Co.’s F-150 Lightning, along with upstarts like Rivian Automotive Inc.’s R1T.
“If Stellantis wants to survive, they’re going to have to beat at least one of the big dogs in trucks,” said Sandy Munro, founder of Detroit engineering firm Munro & Associates.
The truck brand has done it before — in the beginning of 2019, it seized the No. 2 spot in the lucrative U.S. truck market by putting an Apple iPad-inspired 12-inch touch screen in a redesigned, gasoline-powered Ram 1500, setting a trend its crosstown rivals quickly followed. Also on Jan. 5, the company announced a new software unit called Mobilisights, designed to accelerate the rollout of auto data applications and products.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which merged with France’s PSA Group to form Stellantis in 2020, has traditionally been good at using design and marketing pizzazz to rejuvenate aging models like its Dodge muscle cars. But creating a successful new electric model is a bigger challenge than a souped up engine and a facelift, said Ivan Drury, an analyst at Edmunds.
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“What are you going to do with a full redesign?” he said. “They definitely have something to prove.”
The concept shown in Vegas, while not the final production version, has features Stellantis says are designed to woo construction workers, adventure seekers and tailgating sports fans. It’s got 18-foot-long storage space stretching from the truck bed to the front trunk — or “frunk” — a third row of removable jump seats and an AI-powered “shadow mode” that enables the vehicle to respond to voice commands from outside the car.
To soothe range anxiety, Ram plans to offer a gas-powered range extender. The company didn’t say where the vehicle would be manufactured.
Automakers have tended to target the higher end of the market with electric models, which are typically pricier than their internal-combustion competitors. General Motors Co.’s electric Hummer goes for over $100,000.
Ram will try to serve the gamut of customers with its new truck, Koval said. The vehicle platform it’s built on will support a similar product lineup to its gas-powered one, which includes the Tradesman work truck starting in the mid-$40,000 range and the performance TRX that costs double that.
“We know that EV affordability is very topical and we’re very focused on making sure that everybody has access to the Ram battery-electric vehicle,” he said.
Keeping sticker prices low while also turning a profit has been a challenge for automakers, which are grappling with high raw material costs. GM raised the price of Hummers in June, while Ford also upped the cost of the F-150 Lightning last year.
The Ram truck “will absolutely be be profitable,” Koval said. “It has to be.”
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