Just a few short months after Dodge announced that it would produce a gas-electric hybrid version of its recently re-engineered Ram 1500 pickup "sometime in 2010," the struggling automaker has pulled the plug on the project.
"We looked at the numbers, and they just weren't there," said Dodge Trucks manager Fred Diaz in an interview at the New York Auto Show in late March. He was referring to the number of buyers who might opt for the hybrid over the standard gas-engine pickup, based on sales of the Chevy Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 "two-mode hybrid" pickups introduced last year.
According to market researchers J.D. Power and Associates, the Silverado hybrid's share has been a meager 4 percent of all Chevy pickup sales since it was introduced in January 2009, while the Sierra hybrid has fared somewhat better at 7 percent in '09 and 8 percent of total pickup sales through the first four months of 2010.
Dodge now refuses to speculate whether it will ever employ the hybrid system in its pickups. The truck maker helped develop the two-mode hybrid as part of a joint venture with Mercedes-Benz, GM, and BMW during the 1990s. This hybrid system was briefly available in 2009 Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen SUVs before the vehicles were discontinued.