Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker controlled by Fiat SpA, said it expects new powertrains and lighter materials in its 2013 Ram 1500 to push the truck’s fuel-economy ratings past Ford Motor Co.’s F-150 pickups.
The 2013 Ram 1500 will be available with six- and eight-cylinder engines that improve fuel economy from their predecessors by as much as 20 percent, the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker said in an e-mailed statement. Production is scheduled to begin in September, Fred Diaz, president of the Ram truck brand, said in a telephone interview.
Chrysler is equipping the 1500 with eight-speed transmissions and features such as stop-start, which conserves fuel when the vehicle stops, to gain on F-Series. Ford introduced six-cylinder engines to the 2011 F-150 to achieve as much as 23 miles (37 kilometers) per gallon in highway driving, which leads the full-size pickup segment.
“We’re going to be best-in-class fuel economy in both the V-6 and V-8 segments,” Diaz said in a telephone interview from the New York auto show. Chrysler redesigned the truck to “extract every ounce of MPG that we could out of this vehicle.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will issue its ratings for the 1500 closer to when the pickup arrives in dealerships, which is scheduled for October. The agency rates the 2012 model year 1500 at as much as 20 mpg highway.
“Our goal is to continue to meet and exceed customers’ needs and continue to be a leader in the segment,” Marc Lapine, Ford’s F-150 consumer marketing manager, said today in a telephone interview. “We’re going to wait and see what the EPA numbers actually come out to be. As of right now, the claim is unsubstantiated.”
Chrysler may sell the 2013 Ram 1500 for about six months before General Motors Co. starts deliveries of its redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks, Diaz said in a January interview.
GM will introduce new pickups in 2013, Tom Wilkinson, a company spokesman, said in e-mail, without being more specific. The trucks’ new powertrains will offer direct-injection technology to boost efficiency and capability, he said.
“Our experience has been that truck customers won’t trade off capability for fuel economy,” Wilkinson said.
Chrysler said it will be the first automaker to introduce stop-start to pickups in the U.S. The feature shuts off the engine when the vehicle is stopped and improves fuel economy by about 1 mile per gallon in the city, the company said.
The new 1500 cuts 67 pounds (30 kilograms) from the previous model by using lighter-weight steel in the frame, truck bed and bumper plus aluminum in the hood, according to the company’s statement.
Chrysler said its Pentastar V-6 engine paired with the eight-speed transmission cuts about 76 pounds from the previous comparable powertrain. The V-8 engine and the eight-speed transmission are at least 30 pounds lighter than the pair they replace, the company said.