When a vehicle is moving, its energy is kinetic. When it slows down, that kinetic energy is converted to heat in the brakes. Its unfortunate, but that energy is simply wasted. Over a decade ago, that situation was changed when automakers designed regenerative braking systems to capture that wasted energy and convert it into electricity.  Until recently, regenerative systems have been relegated to hybrids sedans like the Toyota Prius or EVs like the Nissan Leaf. Today, though, Ram engineers have designed a new type of “regen” system and is installing it on their trucks. The system is called: eTorque.

eTorque system

The eTorque system is designed to capture wasted kinetic energy. Physically, it replaces the conventional alternator on the engine with a 48-volt motor/generator. The fundamental concept here is the “motor/generator.” This means the device does both: when it is turned by the engine, it produces electricity; when it is turned by a vehicle’s kinetic energy, it makes electricity. “Regen operation is mostly the same on hybrid vehicles,” says Brian Spohn, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ vehicle electrification manager. “What makes the eTorque system unique is its application to trucks.”

Four Modes

According to our technical consultant at Posner Park Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, the Ram eTorque system regen system has four modes of operation. 

Acceleration assist: The eTorque system functions like an electric motor below 2,000 rpm gives the internal-combustion engine an 90 foot-pounds of torque on the V6 and 130 on the V8. 

Coasting: When the driver applies just a little brake such as when traveling down a gently-sloped hill, eTorque operates on “pure regen.” That means it is operating like an alternator and capturing braking energy enough to slightly slow the truck.

Braking: When heavier braking, here’s “blended regen,” in which the conventional disc brakes and regen both work together. The generator is still capturing braking energy, but the brakes are helping out too.

Start-stop: The eTorque system powers a conventional start-stop system in which the engine shuts off at traffic stops, and eTorque quickly restarts it when the gas pedal is pushed. This setup saves gas by lessening the time spent idling. 

Available on the Ram 1500 Big Horn Quad Cab

The am 1500s with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 will come with eTorque system standard, and it’ll be available as a $1,450 option on the 5.7L Hemi V8. And what do you get for your money? Adding eTorque to the Hemi boosts the truck’s towing capacity from 11,610 to 12,750 lbs. It also boosts fuel efficiency on the Hemi from 17 mph combined city/highway to 19 mph on both the 2WD and 4WD models.

Big Trucks

What remains to be seen is whether eTorque will make it to Ram’s 3/4-ton and full-ton pickups. Fiat-Chrysler’s public relations department won’t comment yet. But, electrification makes real sense on big working trucks because electric motors excel at providing torque from idle and this is ideal for hauling heavy loads.

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