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The 2019 Ram 1500 that was announced during the Detroit auto show hit us with a goodie bag full of improvements: lighter overall weight (by 225 pounds) stronger frame, lower coefficient of drag, better fuel economy, plus more payload and towing capacity. Those last three can be partially attributed to new technology dubbed eTorque. But what exactly is eTorque?

Well, in a literal sense, it’s an alternator (the vehicle’s electrical generator) replacement — the 2019 Ram no longer comes with one because the eTorque tech provides the electricity. But in addition to keeping the 12-volt battery charged, the motor/generator quickly restarts the motor when the automatic stop/start system is used, and it adds assist as a mild-hybrid system. That’s right — the 2019 Ram is technically a hybrid. And that’s with either of the two gasoline engines offered, V6 or V8.

While most of the Ram 1500’s electrical systems still use traditional 12-volt power, eTorque is actually a 48-volt system. It uses the aforementioned motor/generator, an eight-rib belt with two tensioners, a DC inverter to convert 48 volts to 12 (for the traditional electrical systems), and a battery pack about the size of a small suitcase that can store up to 430 watt-hours of energy. The total eTorque system, cables and all, adds about 100 pounds of weight to the truck. The battery pack is located inside the rear wall of the cabin.

2019 Ram 1500 and its engineering on display at the Detroit auto show

What you get in return for the weight penalty is a 90 lb-ft of torque boost with the V6 and a full 130 lb-ft worth of help with the V8. There are two different levels of output because of packaging constraints for the V6 engine, which requires a slightly smaller eTorque unit mounted in front (there’s plenty of room under the Ram’s hood, but the eTorque V6 will also find itself in other models, like the Jeep Wrangler). The V8’s larger system is found exclusively in the Ram right now and mounts exactly where the alternator usually lies.

The 2019 Ram comes either with a 3.6-liter V6 outputting 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque or a 5.7-liter V8 with 395 hp and 410 lb-ft. And those peak numbers are unaffected by the eTorque system. The extra oomph comes in when the gas engines are at low speed, like between idle and 1,500 rpm, before they are able to produce bigger torque numbers on their own. The hybrid system broadens the torque band as opposed to adding to peak torque available.

And that’s just fine. Peak torque is useless when you’re trying to pull your 22-foot deck boat out of the water at 0-2 mph. Adding torque down low not only helps get heavy loads moving from a standstill, it takes stress off the powertrain while doing so.

If the idea of owning any kind of hybrid truck makes you nauseated, you can purchase the V8 without the eTorque system. But why? Why turn down more torque off the line? A mild hybrid pickup won’t cut your fuel bill in half, but it will make doing truck things a little bit easier without adding to that bill. How cool is that?

Robin Warner

Robin Warner – Robin Warner is Editorial Manager at Autoweek. He once tried and failed to become a professional race car driver, but succeeded in learning about debt management and having a story to tell. A former engineer, Warner loves cars for their technology and capability.
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