Ram eTorque is an innovative mild hybrid system developed by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) specifically for their Ram pickup trucks. It works by supplementing a traditional gas engine with a 48-volt electric motor generator and a small battery pack. This electrification technology aims to boost the fuel efficiency, acceleration, and capability of the Ram 1500 and heavy-duty models. eTorque essentially adds electric torque assist and regenerative braking to enhance the power, performance, and efficiency of Ram trucks in a cost-effective way.
How Does Ram eTorque Work?
The eTorque system functions as a mild hybrid system for Ram trucks. This is an overview of the key functions within the eTorque system:
- The conventional gas engine provides primary power and torque for driving the wheels, just like in a regular Ram pickup.
- The 48V MGU acts as both a motor and a generator. As a motor, it provides supplemental torque to aid acceleration. As a generator, it captures energy during deceleration and braking and uses it to charge the battery pack.
- The small lithium-ion battery stores energy captured by the MGU. It also provides power to the MGU when extra torque is needed.
- The MGU seamlessly provides torque assistance when accelerating from a stop, during the initial launch, during passing manoeuvres, and to optimize fuel efficiency.
- eTorque also enables a quick and smooth auto stop/start function to save fuel when idling. The MGU spins the engine instantly when the brake pedal is released.
So in summary, eTorque is not a full hybrid system. The electric motor only provides power assistance and charges the battery through regenerative braking. It does not directly drive the wheels. The engine still provides the bulk of the power and torque.
Key Benefits of eTorque
The eTorque mild hybrid system offers some notable benefits:
1. Improved Fuel Efficiency
By using regenerative braking to charge the battery, and providing torque fill with the MGU, eTorque improves overall fuel efficiency, especially in stop-and-go driving. Ram claims an average fuel economy improvement of 10-15% compared to non-eTorque models.
2. Faster Acceleration
The instant electric torque boost from the MGU improves launch performance and acceleration. This makes the pickup feel more responsive.
3. Smoother Stop/Start Function
Thanks to the MGU, the engine can be restarted instantly and smoothly after auto-stop activates during idling. This provides a seamless stop/start experience.
4. Increased Towing Capability
The supplemental torque from eTorque enhances towing capacity. For example, Ram claims a 2,300-pound increase in towing for the eTorque V8 models.
5. Quieter Operation
eTorque enables the gas engine to run in a narrower RPM band, reducing engine noise. The electric motor also keeps the engine revs down during acceleration.
The Ram eTorque system is made up of three main components under the hood:
1. 48-Volt Motor Generator Unit (MGU)
This special electric motor/generator is belt-driven off the engine. As a motor, it provides up to 90 lb-ft of instant torque for acceleration. As a generator, it charges the battery through regenerative braking.
2. 48-Volt Lithium-Ion Battery
This compact battery pack mounted under the truck bed stores energy captured by the MGU. It provides power to the MGU for torque assist.
3. 48-Volt/12-Volt DCDC Converter
This device manages power flow between the 48V eTorque system and the regular 12V electrical system. It ensures stable voltage for optimal operation.
Ram offers eTorque on several powertrain options:
- 3.6L V6 Pentastar eTorque – Standard on some Ram 1500 trims
- 5.7L V8 Hemi eTorque – Optional on Ram 1500, standard on some Ram 1500 models
- 6.4L V8 Hemi eTorque – Optional on Ram 1500, included on some Ram 1500 and Ram HD trims
So eTorque is available matched to both V6 and V8 gasoline engines. The fuel economy gains and performance benefits can be enjoyed across much of the pickup range.
eTorque Versus Other Hybrid Trucks
Compared to other hybrid pickup systems, eTorque differs in some key ways:
- Mild hybrid – eTorque is a less extensive electrification system than full hybrids. The electric motor only provides assistance.
- No EV mode – eTorque cannot propel the truck on electric-only power. The gas engine is always running when driving.
- 48-volt – eTorque uses a 48V system rather than a high-voltage hybrid system. This simplifies components.
- Cost – eTorque has a lower MSRP cost increase compared to full hybrid powertrains.
So while not a full hybrid, eTorque delivers real-world fuel efficiency and performance benefits, without the cost and complexity of larger hybrid systems.
Is eTorque Worth It?
Whether eTorque is worth the additional cost depends on your needs and use case:
- Improved fuel efficiency, especially around town
- Better acceleration response
- Enhanced towing capability
- Seamless stop/start function
- eTorque models cost $2,000-$3,000 more
- Highway mpg improvement is minimal
- Mild regenerative braking effect
For truck owners who do a lot of urban driving or frequently tow trailers, the eTorque drivetrain can definitely be worthwhile. The fuel savings and towing benefits justify the costs for some buyers. However, for highway-focused drivers, the advantages are less significant.
How to Tell if Your Ram Has eTorque
It’s easy to identify if your Ram 1500 or Heavy Duty pickup is equipped with eTorque:
- Badging – eTorque badges on the sides of the truck bed and tailgate.
- Motor – Presence of the eTorque motor generator on top of the engine under the hood.
- Battery – eTorque battery pack mounted on the frame under the truck bed.
- Window Sticker – eTorque is listed as a standalone option on the Monroney window sticker.
- Owners Manual – eTorque explanations in the owner’s manual.
Checking for badging and glancing under the hood will quickly confirm if your Ram truck comes with the eTorque hybrid system.
Is eTorque Reliable?
In general, the eTorque system has demonstrated reliable performance and durability. As a less complex mild hybrid system, there are fewer components to malfunction compared to a full hybrid.
However, as with any new automotive technology, there have been some minor eTorque problems reported on initial truck models:
- Battery replacement needed sooner than expected
- Erratic operation of the auto stop/start system
- Driveline vibrations in some conditions
The Ram eTorque mild hybrid system combines conventional engines with electric motor assist and regeneration. Early reliability issues have been largely fixed as Ram continues refining the technology. All eTorque components are now covered by a generous 5-year/60,000-mile warranty for dependability.
Independent studies have found eTorque trucks to be dependable. The hybrid components do not seem to cause markedly lower reliability compared to non-hybrid Ram trucks
eTorque Versus Other Ram Technologies
In addition to eTorque, Ram also offers other advanced engine and truck technologies:
- Mild Hybrid – eTorque
- Cylinder Deactivation – Available on 5.7L and 6.4L V8s
- Air Suspension – Available on Ram 1500 and Heavy Duty
- Active-Level Rear Air Suspension – Optional on Ram 1500
- Active Tuned Mass Modules – Uses sound cancellation on Ram 1500 Crew Cab
eTorque complements other technologies like cylinder deactivation. Air suspension improves ride comfort and load levelling when trailering. eTorque specifically focuses on boosting fuel efficiency and acceleration.
The Future of eTorque at Ram
Ram continues to roll out eTorque across more truck models and powertrain options. All signs point to eTorque remaining a central part of Ram’s electrified technology strategy:
- New 2022 Models – More trucks gain eTorque like the Ram 1500 Revolution BEV concept.
- Next-Gen Trucks – Expect eTorque to carry over to the redesigned 2024 Ram 1500 and other future vehicles.
- Further Hybridization – eTorque may pave the way for more advanced hybrid tech in the coming years.
- Expanded Adoption – More trim levels will likely come standard with eTorque rather than as an option.
Ram seems committed to eTorque as a cost-effective path to improve fuel efficiency and performance. Mild electrified powertrains appear to be part of the brand’s DNA moving forward.
Driving Impressions of eTorque
Test drives of eTorque-equipped Ram 1500 pickups reveal the advantages of the technology:
- Faster acceleration – The instant electric torque is very noticeable from a standstill. The truck launches with authority.
- Seamless stop/start – The auto-stop function with rapid engine restart is impressively smooth.
- Reduced noise – The MGU keeps rpm lower during acceleration for a quieter cabin.
- Strong towing – The extra low-end torque is beneficial when towing trailers.
- Normal braking – The mild regen effect is seamless and doesn’t affect the brake pedal feel.
Overall, eTorque delivers a snappier, quicker truck without compromising performance. It’s a smart electrification strategy.
The Ram eTorque mild hybrid system is an innovative technology that enhances both fuel efficiency and acceleration. By blending conventional V6 and V8 power with electric torque assist and regeneration, eTorque provides real benefits, particularly for city drivers. The components are reliable and come with lengthy warranties. For truck owners needing more capability for towing or urban commuting, eTorque is an appealing option worth the extra investment. The technology highlights FCA’s ability to smartly electrify its pickup trucks.