Chrysler Cancels Hybrid Ram 1500 Project

The Ram division may be working on a unibody compact pickup to replace the aging Dakota, but plans to build a hybrid version of its full-size Ram 1500 pickup for customers apparently have been cancelled.

Chrysler first aimed to launch the truck — using the same “2-Mode” hybrid transmission found in GM’s hybrid pickups — late last year, but the project was delayed. The project seemed to have been resurrected after Chrysler’s emergence from bankruptcy, but quotes Chrysler sources as saying the project was cancelled just days ago.

So, what killed the hybrid-electric truck? The lack of a viable business case certainly hurt. Hybrid trucks typically are much more expensive to manufacture and subsequently sell than their normal brethren.

“The marketplace acceptance for the Silverado Hybrid has been a complete flop,” Joe Veltri, vice president of Chrysler’s product planning, told “They’re selling only 100 a month.”

Perhaps another factor lies with Chrysler’s revival of the light-duty diesel project with Cummins. A Ram 1500 diesel could post similar fuel economy gains, impressive performance figures, and possibly cost the company and consumers alike less than a hybrid-electric Ram.

In an interesting twist, however, Chrysler will build a limited number of Rams equipped with the 2-Mode system. The Department of Energy awarded Chrysler a $48 million grant to develop and test plug-in hybrid Ram pickups. Nearly 140 examples will be built, and will be evaluated by more than 21 partners across the U.S., including utility and government fleets.