Stellantis: new hydrogen Ram Trucks will be made in Mexico

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Stellantis will soon begin offering hydrogen-powered versions of its biggest RAM Trucks in North America — and they’ll be coming from Mexico.

Stellantis expects to dramatically expand its hydrogen-powered vehicle lineup in coming years, growing from the 350 examples of its HFCEV delivery vans sold last year to more than 100,000 units annually by 2030. Most of those sales, it expects, will be driven by their commercial customers. In the US, that means RAM Trucks.

“This year, we are starting production of larger vehicles in Poland,” Stellantis’ hydrogen program, Jean-Michel Billig, told German-language magazine Welt. “And development in North America should follow quickly – especially with the large RAM 5500 in a fuel cell version.”

RAM Trucks 5500

RAM 5500 MD work truck; via RAM Trucks.

If you’re not familiar with RAM’s medium duty commercial offerings, know that they’re the bigger, beefier cousins of the RAM pickup trucks you probably have seen. The 5500 series is, as the numerical designation implies, rated to both carry and tow significantly more mass — offering a stout 19,500 lb. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) compared to the mere 6,010 lb. GVWR offered by the base RAM 1500 pickup and nearly double the 10,000 lb. rating offered by a Cummins-powered RAM 2500.

They’re serious trucks, in other words. Work trucks. And, as such, they can’t afford the kind of downtime that many fleet managers currently associate with battery electrics.

That said, the amount of time needed to charge an electric truck continues to drop as faster charging speeds couple with in-ground wireless charging and “piggyback” battery systems to keep pushing downtime lower and lower. At the same time, the retail price of hydrogen remains stubbornly high.

Stellantis, though, thinks the market will be there when (if) costs come down. “In the coming decade, we expect a significant market share for [hydrogen] technology,” Billig added. “In commercial vehicles it could be up to 40%.”

Production for the new hydrogen RAM is expected to take place at Stellantis’ Saltillo, Mexico truck assembly plant, which has been in operation since 1995.

Electrek’s Take

A Hemi-powered RAM 2500 moves along the assembly line at the FCA Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant. Opened in 1995, the plant launched production of the heavy duty in 2009; via RAM Trucks.

I talked to a fellow Electrekkie (Electrekker?) about this RAM story as I was typing it up, and their response was a perfect combination of spot-on and hilarious. “Fleets love the idea of saving money on running costs,” they said. “So tell them their fuel is going to cost 4x as much, and the up-front cost of the trucks is higher. Sure! What an easy sell!”

I can’t help but think this is the correct take, especially in light of the fact that hydrogen has recently spiked over $30 per kg, and that a kilogram of hydrogen has about as much energy in it as a gallon of gas.

Even at half that price, though, the math doesn’t add up … and that’s not me saying that. It’s Real Industry People™️. “Today you cannot buy hydrogen for less than 13 or 14 euros,” said MAN Trucks CEO, Alexander Vlaskamp. “And it is not green. And when we have green hydrogen it will be needed for the heavy industry of steel, cement, or plastic.”

NOTE: quotes attributed to Jean-Michel Billig were translated from German using Google Translate.

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