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Diesels get a bad rap. Enough diesel truck enthusiasts want to tune their engine and delete its emissions regulations devices that most folks think of them all as a rambunctious, outlaw crowd. But in the 1980s and 1990s, diesel engines were one of the best-kept secrets in pickup trucks. The new Ramcharger hybrid will be the spiritual successor of those first diesel trucks.

When the Detroit Three launched their first diesel pickup trucks, it was a major technological achievement. Diesel engines are often heavier than gasoline engines, and more expensive to produce. So fitting one into a three-quarter or one ton pickup truck, at a competitive price, was a testament to American engineering prowess and manufacturing might.

Fans of traditional gasoline V8s turned their noses up at some of these early diesels. The Cummins 6BT in the first generation of Ram trucks by Dodge only made 160 horsepower. But those in the know prized it for its 400 lb-ft of torque. It was more powerful, and also more fuel efficient, than its V8 competitors. If you wanted to show off, you bought a V8. But if you were a motor-head or had serious work to do, you might go diesel.

White electric Ram pickup truck parked in front of a job site.
2025 Ramcharger 1500 | Stellantis

Many fans of loud V8 trucks now turn up their noses at electric pickups. And some working folks who need trucks that can tow long distances have rightfully identified that the current generation of EVs just won’t have the necessary range. Even if enough chargers were available, a truck-size lithium ion battery will take a long time to charge. But Ram has a solution.

The Ramcharger trim of the Ram 1500 EV has a (comparatively) small lithium-ion battery and an electric motor for each axle. It also has a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 generator under the hood. This 4WD truck makes 654 horsepower and can tow 14,000 pounds. While regular electric trucks won’t be able to tow for long, the Ramcharger can tow indefinitely, just like a gasoline or diesel truck. How? You fill up its tank and run that V6 like a generator to keep topping off the battery.

So why is this better than a traditional internal combustion truck? It will have a ton more torque, all available from zero RPM. It will also have a gasoline engine designed to run at a single optimal RPM, so it will last much longer and likely get better fuel mileage than a traditional truck. And with a small battery pack that you can recharge at home, you can commute without any V6 engine wear, for a fraction of the cost of gasoline. These are a few reasons modern diesel locomotives use a similar layout with electric drive units powered by a generator.

Exposed battery, frame and drive units that power the Ramcharger hybrid
2025 Ramcharger chassis | Stellantis

When Lordstown Motors first engineered its Endurance pickup truck–targeted at fleet buyers–it advertised that it would have fewer moving parts than any other vehicle on the road. And it’s true, an electric drive unit is an incredibly simple device. This may make EVs exceedingly reliable.

I don’t think every truck owner will be lining up for range-extended electric pickups. But I do think that people who view their trucks as heavy-duty tools will soon catch on to just how reliable and capable range-extended EVs are.

Read how plug-in hybrids are an alternative to the combustion ban, or see the new Ramcharger yourself in the video below: