Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ completely-redesigned 2019 Ram 1500 pickup is breaking new ground for the Italian-Canadian automaker, being the automaker’s first pickup model ever to offer a production hybrid powertrain option – two of them, in fact: one with the company’s 3.6L Pentastar V6, and one with the 5.7L Hemi V8. Yet it’s ground over which General Motors has tread twice before, first with the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra Hybrid (2009-2013), and later with the Silverado/Sierra eAssist models, which were produced in limited numbers and sold in select US markets from the 2016 thru the 2018 model years.
In fact, the 2019 Ram 1500’s new “eTorque” powertrains aren’t too terribly different from GM’s eAssist, both using motor/generator units that are tied to the engine’s crankshaft through pulleys and a fairly typical rubber belt. Like GM’s eAssist, FCA’s eTorque is a mild-hybrid system – that is, one that can’t propel the truck entirely on its lonesome, but rather can only supplement engine torque here and there to bolster efficiency and performance. Both systems weigh in the neighborhood of 100 pounds; both rely on similarly-sized lithium-ion battery packs (450 Wh in GM’s system, vs. 480 Wh in FCA’s); and both provide somewhere around a 2-mpg boost in fuel economy when deployed with a V8.
The most substantial way in which they differ, in fact, is that where General Motors tepidly introduced its eAssist mild-hybrid system to its full-size, light-duty pickup range, Fiat Chrysler is going all in; eTorque is standard on all V6-equipped trucks, and available as a $1,450 option on Hemi-powered ones. We reviewed the new 2019 Ram 1500 eTorque pickup trucks on our sister site FCAuthority this week, finding the mild-hybrid system to be well-designed, pleasant, and effective. Those attributes alone might not be enough to sway many buyers, but with the extra 1,140 pounds of towing capacity that comes with it, we’d bet that FCA will find more than a few takers.
It might be time for General Motors to take a look at introducing another mild-hybrid Silverado/Sierra powertrain.