When we think about the future of trucks, it’s hard to imagine what the landscape will look like for certain companies within a decade’s time. Certain companies have made it known exactly where they’re heading: Ford is all-in on electric modularity. Chevy seems to be reacting to whichever way the market sways. And Ram… well, Ram is a bit of a tough one to gauge. Ram Trucks isn’t a brand that has been very enthusiastic about adopting the electric culture as quickly as some of its nearest rivals. In fact, the future of the Ram truck lineup is a bit of a toss-up because of the current way the company has been unfolding the direction of its innovation.
Ram has been slow to pair hybrid technology with its pickups (other than the eTorque mild hybrid system) and has shown little interest in recent years in completely abandoning the combustion powertrain. In fact, one of the most popular iterations of the Ram in recent years has been the Ram 1500 TRX, which is in the complete opposite direction of the emissions-free electric-only lineup some companies are pursuing. However, this does open the door for some wild speculation as to what could be coming down the pipeline for the popular pickup truck brand, as well as gives us a great opportunity to explore some exciting things we need to see from the future of Ram Trucks.
#4 – Standard Qi-Compatible Wireless Charging
The 2021 Ram 1500 Limited comes standard with the inclusion of Qi-compatible wireless charging for smart devices. It’s a great feature that allows drivers and passengers to charge their smartphone through the pad on the center console by just placing it there. That’s it. It’s become a very popular feature for many vehicles these days but is usually limited to just the higher-end trims. In the case of the Ram 1500, the Qi wireless charging is only standard for the Limited, but it is available as an add-on feature for other trims.
What would be truly exciting is if the Qi-compatible wireless charging was standard across the entire lineup. Nearly everyone is using a smart device these days, and with the synergy created with most vehicles that adopt wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it only makes sense that charging those devices is also given the wireless treatment. In fact, making wireless charging a standard feature across the entire Ram line for future trucks would coincide with all the other technological features and connectivity that pairs smart devices with today’s vehicles. In other words, this would just be the natural evolution of what we currently have in vehicles today.
#3 – Hybrid Ram 1500 TRX
This is a suggestion that will likely get grumbles and mumbles from both the electric-vehicle camp and the combustion-only camp. Why? Because the electric vehicle fans want emissions-free vehicles made standard, and the combustion-only camp will want to enjoy the rumble and grumble that classic V8 power plants are prone to generate. In the case of the Ram 1500 TRX, it’s a trim that’s entirely about power, and it was brought back into the fold for recent model years as a high-performance, off-road sports truck.
One huge selling point for the TRX is the massive horsepower and torque that the truck outputs and the accompanying ecosystem attached to a combustion engine. That means you get the roar of the engine every time you press down on the accelerator, and you get that menacing grumble when you turn over the ignition. You lose all of that with an electric-only vehicle. There’s no more menace. No more grumbling. No more rumbling, and certainly no more roaring.
However, there is a solution that allows the Ram 1500 TRX to stay within the realm of emission standards while still attempting to sate the thirst for the combustion connoisseurs: a hybrid powertrain. Match a powerful V8 with an accompanying electric motor, not unlike what Ram has already done with its eTorque line. You get the benefits of still hearing the roar of a HEMI V8, but with the added benefits of better fuel economy and some compliance with the emissions board, especially if they tack on a small battery pack for the electric motor. Everybody wins.
#2 – Autonomous Trailering
Most electric vehicles support some form of autonomous driving. Whether it’s BlueCruise, Super Cruise, or AutoPilot, many modern vehicles have autonomous driving mechanisms available. With this feature becoming more and more popular among the upcoming slate of new model years across competing brands, it would be pretty exciting to see this particular feature make its way into the future of the Ram truck lineup. Think about the possibilities?
With some technologies enabling off-road autonomous driving, it would be a huge breakthrough for Ram to achieve a similar feature with its trucks. However, instead of focusing on off-road or highway autonomous driving, it would be a really big feat to make it a standard feature that also enables autonomous towing and trailering. This way, people who have to make long hauls across several counties or states could nap a bit while the truck did most of the work.
With most trailering technology featuring sensors and HD cameras from front to back and top to bottom, integrating a proper autonomous driving feature that helps keep the truck on the road and moving at stable speeds would make for a huge selling point. The biggest concern would obviously be the braking and handling of the load. However, with many current-day systems already in place to help assist drivers with trailering, extending the automation and assists to an AI-driven component seems like a very logical step in the evolution of autonomous driving.
#1 – Solar Charging for a Ram EV
I admit, this is probably more fantasy than reality given the costs of such a feature, but it would be a pretty amazing engineering feat if achievable. Having parts of the upcoming Ram 1500 EV’s exterior made of solar charging panels would radically change the range game for light-duty electric vehicles. In addition to regenerative braking, you would also have the panels slowly feeding energy into the battery pack, adding double the amount of regenerative power while out and about on the road.
Now before some critics claim that this is impossible, elements of this tech are already being explored by Tesla with the Cybertruck’s solar tonneau cover. In short, if Ram was really interested in kicking the hornet’s nest of competition, they could very well utilize something similar to what Tesla is doing to pull power from the solar panels on the exterior and feed it into the battery pack.
Of course, there’s a host of other engineering hurdles to overcome, such as what happens when a panel is dented or damaged? Or what happens when there’s electrical damage to a vehicle? Or the cost of replacement parts? So on and so forth. However, it would still be an exciting feature to have as a way to extend the range of an all-electric light-duty truck like the Ram 1500 EV. It would also give the Ram 1500 EV a huge leg up on the competition in terms of being able to pull the most power possible from multiple electric motors to achieve unprecedented horsepower and torque output. At the very least, we can always dream. But what would you like to see in the future lineup of Ram Trucks?