Customer demand is customer demand.
Not too long ago, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was one of the last holdouts in a world rife with automakers betting their respective futures on electric powertrains. The late former CEO Sergio Marchionne once remarked that no one should buy the Fiat 500e because the automaker lost as much as $20,000 on each unit sold, and compared to Ford and GM with their massive, multi-billion-dollar commitments to electric propulsion, FCA had precious little to say about the tech.
But times have changed, and FCA is now prepared to introduce a slew of hybrid and pure-electric models over the coming years, although the change won't affect each of the automaker's brands evenly. Perhaps the most notable exception is Ram, which just pulled the wraps off a new gas-chugging off-road pickup with a 702-horsepower supercharged V8 under the hood: the Ram 1500 TRX.
That may seem like a technical dinosaur in a world screaming for electric alternatives, but the truth, according to Ram Brand Manager Carl Lally, is that customer demand is more on the side of the TRX than an electric Ram pickup.
"We're not afraid to explore other powertrains, we're certainly going to keep our ear to the ground and stay aware of what customers are looking for," Lally told Muscle Cars & Trucks recently. "And if at some point in time that changes to something different then we'll be sure to follow suit accordingly. But it's fundamental to us that it's not about chasing the [EV] trend, but about chasing what the customer really wants and providing it to them."
Customer wants shift over time, of course - something that Lally openly admits. "But today it's a supercharged 6.2L V8 that has them most excited."
Of course, shoving FCA's supercharged SRT Hellcat V8 into a pickup truck seemed like an inevitability, given that the motor has already found its way into not one, but two crossover utility vehicle models. But just as important, the engine delivers something that the current Ford F-150 Raptor simply won't: eight cylinders.
Rumor has it that another, less-powerful Ram 1500 TRX could swoop in later - one powered by FCA's naturally aspirated 392-cubic-inch Hemi V8 - to poach still more customers from Ford's twin-turbo V6 Raptor, but that's conjecture at this point. As for the forthcoming pure-electric version of the redesigned Ford F-150? Ram could fire back, but likely only if there's a promising business case for it.