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New Dodge Ram promises improved fuel economy

The 2009 Dodge Ram will get a 4 percent fuel economy improvement over the 2008 model.
The 2009 Dodge Ram pickup truck, arriving at dealerships this fall, will go a little easier on the wallet at the fuel pump.

And two new models coming in 2010 could thrust Dodge to the head of the pack in the fuel economy race.

The Hemi engine remains, but it has been rebuilt and given the fuel-saving feature of variable valve timing, which changes the time the valves open and close to let the engine run at peak efficiency. Engineers also tweaked the cylinder cutoff system so it operates in a wider rpm range. Compression is up, and the efficiency of air and fuel flowing through the engine has been improved.

Dodge designers also improved the aerodynamics of the truck, which saves fuel. The automaker previewed Chryslerís 2009 lineup on Thursday, June 26, for reporters at its Chelsea, Mich., proving ground west of Detroit.

Bob Lee, Chryslerís vice president of powertrain product engineering, said the Ram truck will get a 4 percent fuel economy improvement over the 2008 model. The automaker didnít release mpg estimates.

That might not sound like much, but horsepower is up 13 percent to 390, which Chrysler says is best-in-class, and some models can reach 60 mph in less than six seconds.

ďThe all-new 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine will offer our customers better fuel economy, improved idle quality and overall refinement, along with more horsepower and torque,Ē Lee said.

Dodge also said the new light-duty, diesel-powered Ram pickup that will be launched after the 2009 model year will deliver a 25 percent fuel economy gain compared with a similar-sized gasoline engine. That new Cummins diesel engine is a V-6 that Chrysler says is clean enough to be sold in all 50 states.

Chrysler also confirmed today that it will launch a hybrid version of the Ram using the Two Mode gasoline-electric powertrain developed with General Motors, BMW and Daimler. The Ram Hybrid, also due after 2009, will come with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with a cylinder cutoff system.

Chrysler executives said the Ram Hybrid will offer a 40 percent gain in fuel economy in the city over a nonhybrid and a 25 percent gain on the highway. The mpg estimates were not released.

The 2008 Ram pickup with a 5.7-liter engine and automatic transmission is EPA-rated at 13 mpg city and 19 highway.

You can reach Richard Truett at rtruett@crain.com

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