Ram boss Bob Hegbloom recently sat down for a short interview with AutoGuide in which he said that in 2006, their customers did not want to sacrifice capability or performance for fuel economy. Four years later in 2010 the opposite was true, and even now, after oil prices have returned to acceptable levels, truck buyers are still in pursuit of excellent fuel economy.
Truck buyers focus on fuel economy has Ram exploring the use of lightweight materials such as aluminum in its products and also has them looking at using electrification technologies going forward, Hegbloom said. Hybrid trucks, such as the slow-selling 2009 Silverado Hybrid, bring the idea of a hybrid truck into question, but Hegbloom says they’ll “continue to explore it.”
Hegbloom didn’t dismiss the idea of aluminum finding its way into the next-generation Ram, however he did say that limitations on pricing and customer opinion would have an affect on the company’s decision on the matter.
“Well, I think it still comes down to delivering on the requirement that the customers want,” he said. “And if I can do it in an efficient way with technology that’s less expensive, still providing the attribute they want, then I’m going to go down that path.”
Pricing and demand will ultimately decide what route Ram takes gong forward, but fuel-efficiency is definitely on their engineers’ minds. Government regulations will force Ram products to be more efficient in the future, and even if they didn’t, it’s what the customer wants.
“At the end of the day, the customers are saying ‘I want fuel economy.’ They don’t care how you get there,” Hegbloom said.