Ram’s EV will offer gas range extender, Mercedes bets big on chargers, heated seat belts: so hot right now


Ram’s Revolution electric truck will offer a gas-powered range extender

Intake: At a round table event during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares confirmed that the forthcoming Ram Revolution electric pickup will offer a gas-powered range extender, according to Car and Driver. Rumors of the range extender surfaced as early as last February, when EVPulse sat down with Ram CEO Mike Koval Jr. and first heard about such a plan. Not every Ram Revolution will come with the extender, but it looks like it will be an option for those who may be concerned about their truck’s overall range or what will happen to that range if they try to tow anything of substance, which substantially reduces an electric truck’s range. Information on the range extender itself was scant, but don’t expect some big Hemi V-8 to be pressed into service here; we might be talking about an engine smaller than that used in any other Stellantis product so as not to impede the available space of the Revolution EV, like the trick pass-through that extends from the frunk all the way through the cabin out the back of the bed.

Exhaust: Ram hasn’t made available any details on torque, power, or range for its new EV, but the mere fact that it’s choosing to ponder a range extender lends credence to Ram’s claim that the Revolution will be “the leader in a combination of areas customers care about the most: range, towing, payload and charge time.” The Chevy Silverado EV, the GMC Hummer, Ford’s F-150 Lightning, and Rivian’s R1T all go without a range extender, so perhaps this is Ram’s idea of a unique selling proposition. — Nathan Petroelje

Mercedes to bankroll 10,000 chargers

Mercedes-Benz Charging network

Intake: Mercedes-Benz announced Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it plans to roll out a global network of 10,000 high-speed battery chargers powered by green energy. The rollout will begin this year in the U.S. and Canada and expand to Europe, China, and other major markets by the decade’s end, says Automotive News. Unlike Tesla’s network of more than 40,000 Superchargers, the Mercedes chargers will be open to other automakers’ vehicles “from the outset.” Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius said, “This is about adoption. “We want to give Mercedes customers around the world yet another reason to join us on the journey towards electrification.”

Exhaust: Mercedes plans to go all-electric by 2030 and investing in chargers seems like a smart way to spend money. Mercedes and MN8 Energy will invest about $1 billion in the North American network over the next six to seven years. “We believe this is a bankable asset,” Källenius said. “This is something that you will be able to monetize when you come out of the investment phase.” — Steven Cole Smith

Dodge “Last Call” performance festival will celebrate the end of the Hemi era

Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept front three-quarter

Intake: A “Last Call” event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 20, 2023, will usher in the seventh and final of the brand’s “Last Call” commemorative models that signal an end of Hemi-powered muscle cars from Dodge. The Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept will be on hand to symbolize the passing of the torch from Hemi to EV power. “The Dodge ‘Last Call’ event will be a celebration of Dodge performance,” said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge brand’s chief executive officer. “While the ‘Last Call’ special-edition model we will reveal at Las Vegas and the electrified Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept represent different performance eras for our brand, both are linked by a commitment to delivering the Brotherhood of Muscle a vehicle that drives like a Dodge, looks like a Dodge and sounds like a Dodge. No matter the era, Dodge will always be about muscle, attitude, and performance, and that’s what this event will celebrate.”

Exhaust: The previous six “Last Call” models—the Dodge Challenger Shakedown, Dodge Charger Super Bee, Dodge Challenger and Charger Scat Pack Swinger, Dodge Charger King Daytona, and Dodge Challenger Black Ghost—have all been noteworthy and instant collectibles. The final car is bound to be something truly special, as Mopar has not let its muscle car fans down lately. We can’t even venture a guess as to what might be in store, as Mopar has resurrected most of the greatest muscle car trims and options this side of mod tops. — Brandan Gillogly

Heat belts could be the hottest in-car tech of 2023

ZF Heat Belt

Intake: Auto parts supplier ZF, which makes everything from transmissions to autonomous valet parking systems, has a new way to warm drivers and passengers of electric vehicles without sapping precious range. The Heat Belt, as the name suggests, is a heated seat belt with built-in conductive wires that can warm up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s been designed to be compatible with existing restraint systems, and, when used in combination with a heated seat and steering wheel, ZF claims it could improve EV winter range by up to 15 percent. Directly warming the body instead of the cabin air is more energy efficient and it would also encourage drivers to shed bulky winter coats, making for a better and safer seatbelt fit.

Exhaust: It’s not the first time the idea has been floated, with Mercedes-Benz showing a version in 2019, but the exponential rise in EVs now makes it all the more appealing. ZF doesn’t have any confirmed customers for the Heat Belt yet but says it would cost the same as adding heat to a steering wheel. For EV drivers in cold climes, it could be a game changer. — Nik Berg

More than 2000 motorcycles up for auction at Mecum’s upcoming Las Vegas sale

Intake: Even as Mecum Auctions’ Kissimmee event is underway in Florida with over 4000 vehicles, the Wisconsin-based company announced that it’s also hard at work readying a Las Vegas auction January 24–28 with more than 2000 motorcycles consigned. The auction will take place at South Point Hotel and Casino, and will feature a number of collections, perhaps most notably one from Mike Wolfe’s “As Found” inventory. Wolfe, of the TV show American Pickers, will be selling 70 barn-find cycles at Mecum’s 32nd annual Vintage & Antique Motorcycle Auction.

Exhaust: Also up for grabs: The BMW Centennial Selection from the Black Forest Collection, and Jim’s Forever Collection from Ohio-based Harley-Davidson dealer Jim Godwin. More information is available at Mecum.com. — SCS

Read next Up next: What we’re watching at Mecum Kissimmee


    I live in a winter climate state (Michigan). I don’t see the appeal of the heated seat belt. I am not going to take off my coat before getting into a cold car and its too hard to take it off while driving after I’ve warmed up a little. If I did take it off, then it would be cold when I put it on again when I reach my destination, so that’s a no go. I am having a hard time envisioning this thing having any benefit to me in the way that most people use their vehicles in cold weather. Also noting that the people in the image are wearing their coats.

    That said, I do use the heated seat and steering wheel on most cold days and appreciate them. The seat mostly warms my bottom since the jacket blocks the heat from the seatback.

    Heated seat belt? If it’s that cold you’re wearing a sweatshirt or flannel.
    And a “range extender” would be flexible solar cells built into the bodywork constantly charging the batteries in daylight hours, even when sitting still in your work parking lot, in front of your house… but yeah, a gas range extender sounds good. My pal in his Tesla would love that, his range is not what was advertised.

    I’m unconvinced by the heated seatbelts. The windows fog up in my EV if the heating system is turned off.

    Ditch the heated belts. Perhaps motorcycle style heated clothing and a heated windshield. gotta heat your face too. Hmmmm.

    Is the plan for these heating elements not to draw any current? Are they wired to a (shiver) solar cell on the roof? Maybe they could put little Zippo wicks inside (don’t spill any!), or mold in some spent nuclear fuel? If current were free, we’d soon be dressed like B-17 crews. Now there is a vision of the future.

    This “extender” is something I have been thinking about since the EV cars and trucks have begin to get serious. Makes a lot of sense to me. Enough that it just might get me into one!

    Ah yes, the heated seatbelt, rather than warming cabin air, will be such a blessing to the infant in the rear-facing car seat.

    The Silverado and GMC Denali EV are much better.

    As for heated seat belts? That is over kill. Not needed.

    Now who will supply a cooling Steering wheel for those hot summers where they get very hot to the hand.

    The RAM range extender idea is long over due, but we did have hybrids to choose from in the past. Years ago I penciled out a hybrid for my 30 mile daily drive and I believe I would have been on battery three days of the week and gas on two. The range extender only needs to charge the battery and not be coupled to the drivetrain. This independence leads to charging at any time. And packaging allows to location to be anywhere in the vehicle. A modular horizontal 2 cylinder with a 10 gallon tank would fit under the back seat floor. I see a selectable remote/independent start feature that maintains the battery above a reasonable percentage. It must be able to charge at a rate close to or higher than usage discharge. Give me a modular battery that can be exchanged for a fully charged unit like a lift-truck and other utility equipment. AND upgradeable electronics so the dashboard doesn’t become obsolete before the vehicle is 3 years old.

    Heated seatbelts are kind of a misplaced idea. I don’t want to heat the outside of my Carhartts. I want to heat the inside of the cabin, clear the windows and mirrors, and melt the snow from my shows to the Weathertech mats. Give me remote controllable, immediate, electric heat and A/C.

    Several years ago before even Tesla was a thing I thought about building a small electric truck. Nothing easier than putting a generator in the bad!

    Does Mercedes intend to use the NACS plugs for their chargers? It would seem counter-productive if they used a 1772 or CCS.

    About the green chargers – the words ‘bankable asset’ sends shivers up my spine.

    Hybrid truck – wish they would promote hybrids more. Pure EV just doesn’t fit my needs very well. Especially as it will be quite awhile until the infrastructure is there in many places.

    Heated seatbelts seems like it might be needless complication. Don’t seat heaters do the job already?

    An EV with a range extender is almost what I have said. Just have a small motor to be a power generator and ditch the heavy batteries. We still refuel like we do now, but way less.

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