This year's Green Car Awards threw up a couple of surprises.
When you think of the term "green car," you probably picture a Prius or a Tesla, or some other type of aerodynamic pod that runs on electricity. What probably doesn't come to mind is a hulking American pickup truck like the new 2019 Ram 1500. Nonetheless, the folks over at Green Car Journal take painstaking measures each year to nominate a Green Truck of the Year, and at this year's 50th annual San Antonio Auto & Truck Show in San Antonio, Texas, the award was handed to the all-new fifth generation Ram 1500.
Green Car Journal's decision-making process is rigorous, as they consider environmental effects as well as more traditional criteria for what makes a truck stand above the rest, like capability, versatility, safety, value, and style. A jury of voters, comprised of Green Car Journal staff and automotive industry experts, select the winner from a group of five finalists.
There are several key factors that contributed to the Ram's triumph. First off, the new 1500 features a mild-hybrid system called eTorque, which swaps the engine's alternator for a motor generator unit and a 48-volt battery pack. The eTorque system raises the trucks efficiency by helping perform smooth and nearly instant stop/start getaways, regeneration of brake energy, and by adding brief bursts of torque to the engine crankshaft when needed.
Along with the eTorque system, the Ram receives an updated TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, as well as crucial weight reductions and more slippery aerodynamic design. Overall weight has been cut by 225 pounds, and the use of special materials and improved engineering techniques trimmed 100 pounds from the truck's frame while still affording the Ram a 12,750 pound towing capability and 2,300 pounds of payload capability.
"We are thrilled to receive The Green Truck of the Year award, affirming our technological leadership in the truck market," said Reid Bigland, Head of Ram Brand. "Our new eTorque mild hybrid system is proof that fuel economy and capability can coexist," he asserted. The 2019 Ram 1500 starts at $31,695 and has been on sale since earlier this year.