Electric Ram 1500 Truck Takes Fight to Ford, Chevy, Tesla With Third Row, Wild Features
Damn, is that a Ram? It is. Ram promised its first all-electric truck would be eye-popping and extreme with looks, features, and specs so bold it might make you forget that it won’t hit the market until 2024, well after most of the competition. And here, at CES 2023, it has delivered an eye-full.
For more than a year, Ram executives have talked smack about how the 2024 Ram 1500 Revolution electric full-size pickup will beat the rest of the field, having had a good long look at what others have to offer and how consumers respond. The GMC Hummer EV, Ford F-150 Lightning, and the Rivian R1T have the biggest head starts as they are already available. General Motors will launch the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV work truck this spring and add the GMC Sierra EV in 2024. Tesla might even get its years-delayed Cybertruck to customers before the Ram hits showrooms.
Ram brand CEO Mike Koval Jr. has spent the last year saying Ram will use its come-from-behind status to top the field in all the key areas that matter to buyers: towing and payload, as well as range and charge time. His team has also traveled the country on the year-long Real Talk Tour seeking suggestions and feedback as the concept took shape.
Crucial Concept for Ram
Finally, Ram is giving the world its first look at what it has been bragging about: the Ram 1500 Revolution Battery-Electric Vehicle Concept now on display at CES 2023 in Las Vegas.
It may be a concept, but the real deal will break cover in a few months. The design of the production model has been locked in and keeps a lot of what the concept is showcasing. And the name is also a takeoff: the concept is Revolution, the production truck will be called Rev.
This is the roadmap to Ram’s future and its mission to redefine the pickup segment, Koval says. “Everything you see from now on will be a direct descendant of this.”
So, does it live up to the hype—after all Ram has been a recent three-time MotorTrend Truck of the Year with its combustion-engine pickups.
Introducing ‘Brutiful Design’
Everyone from Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares down has promised a dramatic and sleek look to differentiate the electric pickup from the conventional truck lineup. “It will open up a lot of eyeballs,” promised Koval. Ram was not going to follow the more conservative approaches by Ford—which modified and electrified the existing F-150—and GM, which created all-new trucks from the ground up but kept the overall styling somewhat conservative and familial to the ICE versions to not spook loyal truck buyers.
Ram went full out, balls to the wall, modern, edgy, brutish. Not as far out there as the Tesla Cybertruck but they might have exited the same styling ramp.
The future of Ram trucks is ultra-modern and designers went for a look that is both brutal and beautiful—or as Head of Design Ralph Gilles calls it, “brutiful.” The body retains Ram DNA with fender flares and an accentuated coke bottle shape, says exterior designer Mark Trostle. The face of the truck is animated and has new RAM badging and an LED “tuning fork” headlight design. LED lights have also been integrated into the front bumper flares. The fascia has a skid plate and pivoting tow hooks that can sit flush. The LED taillights are also fully animated.
Koval thinks it is a heroic design that will change hearts and minds when it comes to pickup trucks, especially as it will also offer “white knuckle acceleration and extraordinary efficiency.”
Crew Cab Only
The whole cabin was shifted forward, and it is 4.0 inches longer than today’s 1500s, while the bed length remains the same. The roof height is lower, likely for better aerodynamics. It comes only as a crew cab—that is the preferred configuration of 80-90 percent of buyers, says Koval.
And check out those doors: removing the B-pillars allows for a grand saloon style opening of the clamshell doors into a cavernous cab. But don’t get too excited, it is structurally feasible but there will be conventional doors on the production model. (Mr. Gilles hinted that the yawning doors were chosen to help show off the show truck’s cabin more than anything else.) We are more intrigued by the flush door handles that do not pop out. Touch them and the door itself opens a few inches and the grab handle is on the end of the door. Also built into the ends of the door are removable speakers, portable battery chargers, and storage compartments that can be heated or cooled or can store straps or house a first aid kit.
The cabin can be configured into usable workspace with a removable center console. Or slide the center armrests over to serve as a fold-flat work surface for driver or passenger.
Return of the Jump Seat, Adding Third-Row Seating
A new twist: the introduction of third-row seats in a pickup. In this case, they are jump seats. Like GM’s electric trucks, the Revolution has a powered midgate with a rear window that retracts and folds into the cabin. But Ram goes a step further. Slide the first two rows of seats forward—they are on the “Ram Track” floor-mount system—to reveal a third row of mounted jump seats. You can even remove the lower portion of the seats and prop them bleacher-style on the ground or on the bed for tailgating. You can also remove the front seats from the track and reattach them swiveled to face the rear passengers. The seats have extended recline capability and can be folded flat. Each chair has integrated seatbelts, as well as built-in grab handles and speakers. The Ram Track rail attachment/floor track system also allows the user to shift the center console around as needed, and the track continues forward through the frunk and rearwards through the truck bed.
The removable lower section of the jump seats also creates a pass-through to both the bed and the frunk, to fit objects such as PVC piping and wood planks up to 18 feet long with the tailgate closed—and seemingly longer with the fold-out bed extender in place. The opening, where it meets the front firewall, is roughly 1 foot by 1 foot.
Can’t Forget the Frunk
Yes, there is a frunk—a front trunk where an engine would normally be. We don’t have dimensions yet, but it is falls between the huge, squared-off frunk in the F-150 Lightning and the more shallow and narrow openings in the Silverado and Sierra EVs. The Revolution frunk has the continuation of the Ram Track rail system, as well as compartment dividers, cupholders, a drain, and four power outlets. The frunklid is powered and opens and closes with a single touch.
The tailgate is also powered, as are the side steps and a rear step with an active diffuser. There are more power outlets in the pickup bed. Ram also made the RamBox box-side storage bins larger. The sideview mirrors are smaller than you’d expect, mostly because they incorporate a digital camera for a full view of the truck’s surroundings. Images from cameras around the truck project a 360-degree view on the digital screens inside the truck. The mirror housings are also lighter, thanks to their 3D-printed designs that integrate backup flood lights.
Ram is already known for its class-leading truck interiors, and the Revolution concept combines that upscale vibe with a lot of… pure future fantasy. The headlights’ tuning fork theme continues inside, stretching along the dashboard and back towards the midgate. Leather comes from byproducts of the apple industry, and the floor is made of recycled rubber and cork particles.
The steering wheel has a flat top and collapsible bottom with enhanced hand grips, capacitive controls, digital screens, and an illuminated RAM badge. In this concept’s theoretical Level 3+ autonomous mode, the steering wheel retracts for more room for the driver. It rotates forward and then slides like a CD—or a cassette tape, or, um, your credit card—into the dash.
That huge touchscreen is actually two screens, offering 28 inches of display. The lower screen tilts with three different positions to offer a single flush screen, a slight angle, ore a more extreme angle. It can also be removed, like a tablet. The driver also has an augmented reality head-up display—there is no digital cluster. Other wow inducers? The glass roof extends across the truck; there is no headliner. It has a crazy pattern and you swipe to adjust how much light comes in through each quadrant. There also are no sun visors: you touch the glass of the windshield and slide down the tinting to block the glare of the sun.
Ram wants to redefine the customer experience by using the latest technology for connectivity and advanced mobility features. Among the coolest features: The AI-powered personal assistant that uses a 3D Ram avatar to react to voice commands, even from outside the vehicle, to unlock it or play music.
Or ask the Ram to “follow me” with Shadow Mode, and the truck will automatically follow the driver walking ahead of the vehicle for those times when you only need to drive a short distance and don’t want to hop back behind the wheel. The truck will follow the driver at a safe distance, using sensors and camera technology to navigate around obstacles like a huge, electric, robotic puppy.
“My Day” does your trip planning, Smart Home Control turns on the heat and lights in your home while you are still en route, and Cabin Mode sets the mood to be productive, social, relaxed, or party. There is an exterior projector for movie night. Oh, and the Intelligent storage app helps measure objects to see if they will fit in the truck, saving you from back-breaking despair.
STLA Frame is the Key
The Ram Revolution uses the Stellantis STLA Frame body-on-frame architecture designed specifically for full-size electric vehicles. It incorporates the battery pack, and there are full underbody panels for aerodynamics and an active diffuser. The architecture was designed for heavy vehicles and Koval says even so, the Rev will remain in the light-duty truck category. (GMC’s beefy Hummer dances right up to the line separating light- and heavy-duty classification, for example.) That managed weight should come in handy for further variants; the architecture is also designed to accommodate more power—think 1500 TRX, but electric.
All-wheel drive is achieved by having two electric drive modules, one in front and one in the back. The Revolution concept also has four-wheel steering with up to 15 degrees of articulation. It is a feature that makes it easier to maneuver the large vehicle. It also means it can crab walk, Koval confirms, similar to the Hummer pickup.
Similar to the Silverado EV, the Ram rides on 24-inch wheels with center caps that light up and stay in place. The truck has self-leveling capability. Adjustable air suspension offers three modes: lowered to get in and out more easily, aero, and the highest setting for off-road.
Koval says the Revolution will offer class-leading range, but we have to wait a few more months for full specs. The STLA Frame global platform was designed to carry heavy loads and still provide up to 500 miles from a single charge eventually—some of the technology it not available today. For now, the automaker is saying the Revolution concept can add up to 100 miles of range in about 10 minutes with 800-volt DC fast charging at up to 350 kW, which are the same charging figures as the Chevy Silverado EV, which has a range of 400 miles. The F-150 Lightning has range of about 320 miles with the extended-range battery.
The Ram will also follow the competition in offering smart-charge capability to make it easy to let the energy flow at off-peak times. And it can be used to power tools, a home, or other vehicles. Ram designed the charge-port door to power open and closed, and it lights up and blinks while charging, with a sound to signal when charging has commenced. Though Ram locates the charging door by the driver’s-side front door, GMC places it on the rear of its Hummer, figuring owners would prefer to back up to the charger. That means Ram probably expects its customers want to nose in for their Level 1 and Level 2 juice; in the port itself, AC charging is handled by the top half and DC fast charging on the bottom half.
Ram also used CES to show a new inductive robot charger—the Ram Charger, a classic Ram name we wish had been used for this truck, but hey—to make it easier to charge at home. The robot detects that the vehicle is there and its state of charge, and then aligns itself under the truck.
Driving the Revolution
The entire Ram lineup will eventually be electrified, part of the Stellantis Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan that will phase out combustion engines at all 14 Stellantis brands. Look for a truckload of news throughout the year, Koval says. That includes a Ram with a “range extended paradigm breaker” which means a small gas engine to extend the range. But, for now, this Ram 1500 EV concept is just that—an invitation for feedback from Ram customers new and old. We’re told the reaction after the reveal will be closely watched, and that some of the show truck’s more innovative features are still being developed, including that third row seating, flexible cabin, and gigantic pass-through. Ram may be late to the EV truck fight, but it’s coming armed.
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