High-Horsepower Truck Wars are Heating Up in the U.S. Market

Source: LMC Automotive

In an ever-tightening world of CO₂ emission restrictions and rising fuel economy targets, we are seeing engine downsizing and the addition of boost or electrification trending across the Truck industry. Dodge, however, continues to buck this trend with its 700+ horsepower V8 Hellcat engine equipped in top-trim Charger/Challenger SRT models, and has now added the motor to its Durango SRT SUV.

The Jeep brand received the Hellcat treatment in 2018, with the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. For 2021, the 6.2L supercharged V8 engine spills over to the Ram brand, with the all-new 1500 TRX, an off-road performance Truck to compete against the Ford F-150 Raptor, the only off-road Baja Truck in its class in the last decade.

This month, Ford introduced the third-generation Raptor and elected to carry over the 3.5L twin turbo V6 from previous years. The automaker did not reveal power specifications and only hinted at the arrival of a Raptor-R next year, offering no other detail – although a Ford spokesperson did confirm that a V8 engine was on its way. This gives Ram horsepower bragging rights and the sales edge for at least a year.

Interestingly, less than three years ago, Ford had no plans to equip a 700+ horsepower V8 in the F-150 Raptor. Ram effectively forced its hand in expediting the development of the V8 Raptor-R engine, which may explain why Ford opted to launch the Raptor-R a year later.

Ten years ago, if you were to ask an automotive executive in the US what their thoughts were on putting 700 horsepower in a half-tonne Truck, their initial response would most likely have been “why”? In today’s SUV/Truck dominant automotive landscape, however, the more salient question, at least in the corporate suites of Auburn Hills, would be “why not”?

The days of hearing the roar of a V8 are numbered as governments around the world look to ban internal combustion engines by 2035-2040, forcing automakers to electrify their vehicle portfolios. With electrified vehicles seeming to dominate every new model reveal these days, it is refreshing to know that artificial engine sounds in the Truck sector have been put on hold for a little while longer.

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