As the automotive industry makes the jump to electrification, it seems most automakers are focusing on the full-size pickup truck market. Full-size trucks are not only the best-selling category of vehicle in the United States but also are some of the most profitable.
Among Detroit’s Big-3 automakers, Ram is the last to jump into the mix. While Ford Motor Company (FoMoCo) has already launched and delivered its F-150 Lightning, FoMoCo is already at work on developing its second generation of that truck. As for General Motors (GM), which already has delivered its GMC Hummer EV Pickup super-truck to customers, it is currently finishing the development of its new Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV pickups.
So to say Ram is playing it safe isn’t a bad observation, but it looks to be a smart one. Ram has been watching the competition closely and continuing to gain important feedback from its customer base via its “Ram Real Talk Tour” events. But that doesn’t mean Ram engineers aren’t hard at work!
For the first time, spy photographers have captured a Ram 1500 BEV (battery-electric vehicle) prototype in the open. Sitting atop the STLA Frame architecture, Ram chose a 2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn Crew Cab body with a 6-foot, 4-inch box for this mule. An evolution of the Ram 1500 DT platform, the updated STLA Frame platform was designed and engineered to offer flexibility for internal combustion engine (ICE), hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), and BEV variants in various widths and lengths accommodating multiple applications.
During its EV Day 2021 presentation, Stellantis confirmed that STLA Frame vehicles will feature Stellantis’ all-new EDM #3 electric drive module which is capable of 330 kW (443 horsepower) of power output. It also stated that the STLA Frame architecture can accommodate up to three of the new EDM modules.
For reference, the FoMoCo uses two EDMs to provide four-wheel drive (4×4) to its Lightning models. GM’s GMC Hummer EV Pickup uses three EDMs for its tri-motor eAWD system, a system which GM claims to have over 1,000 horsepower combined. If Ram decides to use a tri-motor setup, that means the Ram 1500 BEV could offer a maximum of 990 kW (or about 1,320 horsepower) of combined output.
These spy shots also allow us to see that the Ram 1500 BEV will adopt a similar independent rear suspension (IRS) design to the Jeep® Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer (WS), another vehicle that uses a modified version of the DT architecture. Judging by the photos, this mule appears to be using a link-coil rear suspension system. A similar take to the Lightning. However, we expect Ram to offer an optional active-level four-corner air suspension just like its current offerings.
Looking around the truck, we also see some other very interesting details.
It appears that Ram will offer two charging port doors (one on each front fender) judging by the camouflage. This is another detail that Lightning owners were disappointed about in their trucks, as their passenger side features a faux charging door to make the truck look symmetrical on both sides.
Speaking about the sides, we see that the truck is riding on 20-inch wheels from the Wagoneer Series II wrapped in low-resistance rubber. We don’t expect those units to make it into production on the Ram 1500 BEV, but knowing Ram engineers, there are probably there represent something aero for the time being.
We also can see that engineering is also trying its best to hide the truck’s battery pack with a rubber strip that is mounted behind the running boards. Stellantis has promised that the new Ram 1500 BEV will have a capability of up to 500 miles of range. This again easily surpasses competitors’ claims, which have ranges more around the 300-mile mark. Stellantis has also said that its battery packs will feature fast charging capabilities (up to 150 kW) and have a class-leading fast charging capability of 20 miles per minute. Hopefully, they will be able to deliver on those claims.
At the rear of the truck, we can see that the rear bumper has been bent to allow for a much higher receiver hitch. Now, we can’t be sure if it will make it into production that way, but it looks like it could be a setup for the development stage.
Being accustomed to seeing a dual exhaust coming out of the Ram 1500 V8 models, the BEV model has nothing other than a full-size spare and hitch sticking out behind the IRS. Looking closer we can see the orange high-voltage cables slightly hanging underneath the truck too.
We do find it very interesting that Ram chose the longer-wheelbase Ram 1500 model to base this mule on. For example, its competitors use completely different setups. FoMoCo only sells the F-150 Lightning in a Crew Cab configuration with a 5-foot, 5-inch box. So far, GM has shown its trio of offering to have a Crew Cab body with an integrated pickup box design featuring a midgate pass-through system.
So could this mean Ram will be the first BEV pickup to market offering different bed lengths? After seeing these images, it seems likely.
Now don’t forget, the Ram 1500 BEV won’t be the only electrified pickup that the Auburn Hills automaker will be bringing to market. The BEV will be joined by an all-new Range Electric Paradigm Breaker (REPB) version. According to insiders, the REPB will feature a smaller displacement gasoline engine that will act as a generation charging the batteries but not driving the wheels and thus eliminating range anxiety.
Ram is scheduled to unveil a conceptual version of its Ram 1500 BEV next month, dubbed the Ram Revolution. A specific date and time have not yet been confirmed by the automaker.
Ram 1500 BEV Prototype Mule Image Gallery: