PHEVs to Rule Trucks?

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by David Towle, Nov 7, 2023.

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  1. David Towle

    David Towle Well-Known Member

    I think Chrysler/Ram/Stellantis is onto an amazing idea. Their new PHEV pickup will have around 70 kw-hrs of battery and about 145 miles of range, with a V6 powered charger and a 27 gallon gas tank. Full capability to output the power to your house during an outage or wherever needed. Unlike Clarity, no direct engine drive at all, certainly its less needed with such a large electric range.

    Chrysler has had amazing successes in the past with new ideas, like the super basic K cars and minivans. Could this put them on top of the trucking world where seemingly nobody wants Ford's wimpy EV pickup? This Ram will probably be a gas hog when towing, but for occasional use so what? It will be fast and fun and economical (plugged in) most of the time.
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  3. coutinpe

    coutinpe Active Member

    This is the RATIONAL way of doing things. I wish the other "Big two" would go this way. But in these days of obsession with "ideological purity" in the automotive world, rationality is a rare merchandise.
  4. MrFixit

    MrFixit Well-Known Member

    Seems like a good idea, but I would question the battery size...
    70 kWh of battery is a LOT of battery. In a passenger vehicle like a Tesla, that would get you around 300 miles of range (more than double what this predicts). Wouldn't you reap most of the benefit of this architecture with a much smaller battery? A battery that was half that size would weigh less, cost less, and give you more EV range than the Clarity which is still kind of in a class all it's own !
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  5. marshall

    marshall Well-Known Member

    Since the battery is so big, the price for the truck is going to be expensive unless they have some magic to get the battery cost way down.

    Note, it's price, price, price!

    Since most of these trucks are commuter vehicles, I wonder if this idea would be better in a smaller size pickup like the Maverick, with a much smaller battery.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2023
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  6. marshall

    marshall Well-Known Member

    Ford just recently in the last week or two started shipping the Lightnings to dealers in any quantity from what I've seen looking at the local dealer's web sites. So I may be a bit early to say nobody wants the truck.

    Again, it's price, price, price!
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  8. That looks like it will replace our 25 year old GMC truck next year. Probably the Clarity as well.

    Maybe the other Big 2 will catch on.

    As far as price, new trucks are $60K-$100K, so it fits right in.
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  9. A PHEV isn’t a particularly amazing or new idea. It did take awhile for the great minds to think about utilizing the technology in their most profitable models.

    Toyota did it with the RAV4 prime and Stellantis did it a few years ago with the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee 4xe variants. Lexus has introduced a PHEV SUV and their commercial emphasizes “Electricity for the short trips, gas for the long trips”. Finally, someone is trying to educate low information customers.

    I’ve read a number of articles on the Ram PHEV and while none have mentioned a MPG figure for highway driving in e-Save Mode, for example, a bit of math comes up with 20mpg. This was obtained by subtracting the EV range of 145 from the total claimed range of 690, resulting in 545 and then dividing 545 by 27, the stated fuel capacity. As a point of reference, I recently drove a 2009 Ram 1500, regular cab, short bed, 2WD, equipped with a 3.7l V-6 more than 5000 miles this past August and September. It averaged 17-18mpg.

    Depending on what the new truck is towing, in addition to towing speeds and terrain, I’d expect a 30% loss of range while towing in e-Save Mode, which preserves the battery SOC. That would work out to roughly 375 miles and the battery would still be fully charged. Yes, e-Save works remarkably well on Stellantis products, at least on the Jeep 4xe models. Personally, I would only tow something over say, 8000lbs locally. Any sort of multi-day, cross country trip with a camper would be with a trailer that weighs less than 8000lbs, perhaps even 6000lbs. The truck will likely have a relatively short wheelbase that won’t play well with long, heavy trailers. Even thought it reportedly rides on 8-lug wheels, suggesting that it is built on something equivalent to a 3/4-ton chassis, it’s still a short truck.

    The 145 mile EV range would easily cover a typical commute, grocery getting and soccer games.

    One note on the 4xe: It has a Fuel and Oil Refresh Mode (FORM). We experienced this in October after not having added or used any fuel since early June. The vehicle defaults to Hybrid Mode and will run the engine until at least 4 gallons of fuel is used and replaced. Or so we thought. After adding 12 gallons the car remained in FORM. Another condition which may need to be met is operating the vehicle for at least 20 minutes with the oil temperature above 205F. So, I drove it up a mountain for 35 minutes in low gears, keeping the temperature up, all to no avail. The final condition which can end this wastefulness is running the fuel level down until the low fuel light illuminates. That worked. The car immediately went into EV Mode. We unnecessarily burned more than 30 gallons of fuel just to get the car to go back to EV. We’re taking a trip next month that would have burned the fuel on the first day, but there’s no way to bypass this feature. So we’re going to make sure and use some fuel every 3-4 months. It did cross my mind to drain the fuel and just put it back in.
  10. David Towle

    David Towle Well-Known Member

    Easy enough to offer a lower cost model with a smaller battery in the future.
  11. David Towle

    David Towle Well-Known Member

    The new idea to me is primarily the huge range for a PHEV, that will cover most contractors for many stops over the course of a day. Plus almost any commuters. And its important as you hint because total US pickup sales for a week are about what the Clarity sold in its entire 5 year model run.
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  13. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    A 70 kWh pack is a lot of battery, but Reuters reports:
    The Ramcharger will use a six-cylinder gasoline engine as a generator to recharge the truck's 92 kWh battery pack.
  14. Motortrend also lists the battery at 92kWh’s. That works out to about 1.6 miles/kWh. Our 6000lb Jeep gets about 1.5 miles/kWh. An estimate of 145 miles from a 70.8kWh battery would be quite optimistic for this particular vehicle.

    Remember the thread where a number of members members said they wanted a PHEV with more EV range? Well, here it is.
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  15. NorCalPete

    NorCalPete Member

    I'll be taking a close look at the Ramcharger as a potential tow vehicle for my travel trailer (6k pounds max weight). Our current TV is a 1996 Suburban. Based on the reported specs on the Ram, it seems to be just shy of the cargo weight capabilities of 3/4 ton trucks, and has a bit more HP and torque compared to Ford's 7.3L F250 that I have been considering. If the Ram has decent range (i.e., > 350 miles) when towing our trailer, it could meet our needs.
  16. It should be well suited to the task, particularly if the 6K TT is ~24’ or less in length. Payload capacities for 3/4-tons range from about 1800-3600lbs, depending on configuration. For 1/2-tons it can be as little as 1200lbs and up to around 2300lbs.

    At 2600lbs, the new truck exceeds the rating of most, if not all, 1/2-tons especially if compared to a crew cab cab 4x4. It is also in the 3/4-ton league, although near the lower end where we see extended cab, long bed, 4x4’s equipped with diesel engines. This is a 3/4-ton equivalent that is loaded down with a heavy battery. It’ll probably weigh in around 6000lbs with a GVWR near 8600lbs.
  17. Mark W

    Mark W Active Member

    There are many different types of vehicles for different purposes. It seems like the main market for this would be people who are interested in an electric truck but do fairly frequent towing. Seems like a great vehicle for that. It's going to be expensive though, as it should.
  18. It definitely would be a great vehicle for that type of user. Pick up trucks accounted for more than 20% of new auto sales in the US last year, nearly 3,000,000 in total. Based on my observations, I’d say less than 5% ever tow or haul anything and less than 1% tow frequently. They are commuter cars and grocery getters.

    I’m foaming at the mouth to get one and it will rarely be used for towing. The 12mpg truck will be gone and it’ll be able to travel the same distance on $12 of electricity as the current truck does on $40 of gas. The Clarity is more efficient, but why keep it around when another PHEV is available that has 3 times the EV range and twice the total range?

    Trucks and SUV’s are less efficient than sedans, but the chassis can support the weight and space required for a larger battery and an internal combustion engine. The Clarity weighs 4000lbs with just a 17kWh battery and a 1.5l engine. Tripling the battery size and changing to a 2.0l engine would put the car at 5000lbs, and it wouldn’t have much of a trunk. The Volt and Clarity likely offered the best EV range we will ever see in a sedan or small SUV.

    With the Ram PHEV, it make no sense to buy an electric only truck. I’m not sure why Stellantis would even continue making the EV version, since they’ve just blown it out of the water.
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  19. NorCalPete

    NorCalPete Member

    On paper at least, the Ramcharger really hits the sweet spot for me. Currently we use our TT (23', solar/lifepo4 system that can power everything for up to 2 weeks with minimal sun) to drycamp about 5 weeks each year. I'm retiring after this academic year, so days camping will increase soon. With the Ram's built-in 7kw inverter, I wouldn't need to carry a small backup generator for the TT anymore. We'd keep the Clarity (wife's car), and I'd use the Ram for local trips at home when my e-bike, motorcycle, or T-bucket won't meet the need. We have a net-zero solar system on our home, further reducing the cost of charging PHEVs. The Ram really does seem to check all of my boxes, although purchase price and actual tow range are still unknowns.
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  20. I’d expect it to start around $60K. If we’re fortunate it will qualify for the full $7500 tax credit, although trucks and SUV’s need to have a MSRP of $80K or less to qualify, so the top trim levels may not be viable options.

    As far as towing range, a 40% reduction from non-towing range would be a worst case scenario. Going with the numbers, 20mpg seems to be what Stellantis is claiming. Reducing that to 12mpg and using 25 of the available 27 gallons results in a range of 300 miles, without using any battery capacity. Unless you’re boondocking 150 miles or more from the last fuel stop that amount of range should not be a problem.
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  21. David Towle

    David Towle Well-Known Member

    It may or may not be expensive, depending on how popular it is and whether the manufacturer decides to lose money on it. Ford says they have lost $36,000 on every EV they have sold. GM I think does not lose money but charges high prices for the Hummer EV around $110k. Ram I would think would be wise to keep the price within some affordable range at least initially to get the ball rolling.
  22. Better dump Ford stock before they scale those losses up to 2 million EV’s a year.
  23. NorCalPete

    NorCalPete Member

    I decided to dig a little deeper into speculating about the Ramcharger's range and gas mileage while towing. The closest comparison I could find was in an article by Motortrend that included towing data for the Ford Lightening pulling 3 different travel trailers, including a 28-foot, 5,260-pound one; my 23-foot TT typically weighs 5000-pounds when loaded. Their test Lightning was EPA rated for 300 range miles, but they only acheived 255 actual range miles (85%) with a solo driver and no trailer. When pulling the 5260-pound trailer while averaging 64-67 mph, range dropped to 100 miles (39% of actual range miles without the TT).
    Using the above percentages for my Ramcharger estimates, the EPA-rated 145 EV-only range would drop to 123 miles (85%) without a trailer, and 48 miles (39%) when towing. Pulling my trailer for long-distance travel, I'm assuming gas only (no ac/dc charging) and maintaining the SOC at the high end for hill climbing and as a reserve, so 690 - 145 = 545 EPA-rated gas-only range miles, resulting in 463 actual non-towing range miles (85%), and 181 towing range miles (39%). This would equate to 6.7 mpg when towing, assuming a 27 gallon tank. With only a potential 48 mile EV-only range when towing (at full SOC), I wouldn't want to run the gas tank to empty, so that 181 gas-only range would be further reduced. And this doesn't take into account mileage-reducing mountain passes or strong headwinds, both of which occur frequently on my trips. If my (admittedly speculative) numbers end up being in the ballpark, the Ramcharger just wouldn't make sense for me as a primary tow vehicle. The current alternative would be a Ford F-250 7.3L gasser with 300 actual range miles and 8 - 10 mpg when towing a TT. Of course, this is all speculation on my part and my numbers definitely could be wrong.
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