Home » Engineering Expert Sandy Munro Takes A First Look At The Ram Revolution’s ‘STLA Frame’ Platform. Here’s What He Thinks

Engineering Expert Sandy Munro Takes A First Look At The Ram Revolution’s ‘STLA Frame’ Platform. Here’s What He Thinks

Stla Frame Topshot

The cutaway model is a bit of a dying art, and I can’t say I’m surprised. It’s expensive to hack up pre-production hardware for auto show visitors to gawk at, even if much of that hardware is destined for the crusher. Thankfully, Stellantis still sort-of believes in the cutaway model, so let’s take a look at a display model for Stellantis’ STLA Frame architecture underneath the Ram Revolution concept.

First, a primer on exactly what STLA Frame is. At the core of Stellantis’ big electric push are four EV platforms called STLA Small, STLA Medium, STLA Large, and STLA Frame. Yes, STLA is pronounced ‘Stella.’ STLA Medium and STLA Large are expected to launch this year, although it’s tough to say what will ride on them first. Will the Jeep Wagoneer S or the upcoming Dodge Charger replacement run on STLA Large first? What sort of Peugeot, Opel, Alfa Romeo, and DS products will ride on STLA Medium? At this point, only Stellantis knows.

However, we know for sure that the upcoming electric Ram pickup truck will use the STLA Frame platform, and Stellantis has given everyone an early glimpse by rolling out a prototype frame of sorts at CES. Our friends at engineering firm Munro & Associates managed to capture this display on video, so we’re able to dive in and have a gander.

Stla Frame

Let’s start with the frame itself. Unsurprisingly, it’s a fully-boxed fth, as is typical for full-size pickup trucks these days. However, like on the Rivian R1T, the frame appears largely open between the rails to allow space for a battery pack. This likely means that the battery pack plays a structural role, absorbing crash energy in the event of a side-impact collision.

Stla Frame Front Motor

Moving up front, let’s take a look at the front drive unit. Sandy Munro thinks that Stellantis might retain this motor for the inevitable production model, which isn’t a bad bet to make. It’s certainly a beefy unit, but it’s packaged nice and low in the frame in a way that should benefit frunk space. Stellantis was able to make this happen by putting the motor right behind a major crossmember. Smart packaging.

Stla Frame Inverter

In the model, it looks like the inverter sits right behind the front motor, ahead of where the battery pack should go. Of course, this could change for production, but mounting the inverter right next to the battery pack’s high-voltage terminals seems cromulent. Speaking of the battery pack, STLA Frame will accommodate some huge battery pack sizes, as Stellantis is targeting up to 500 miles of range on this platform. Expect a minimum capacity of 159 kWh with a maximum of over 200 kWh.

Stla Frame Rear Motor

Moving along, let’s check out the rear drive unit. It appears different to the front motor, indicating that the electric Ram 1500 could potentially feature a more powerful rear drive unit for rear-biased all-wheel-drive.

Putting EV-specific stuff aside, let’s talk rear suspension, which is traditionally a live axle on combustion-powered pickup trucks. Of course, hooking an electric motor up to a live axle presents all sorts of unsprung weight and packaging challenges, so automakers are moving to independent rear suspension. Ford decided to use massive massive trailing arms on the F-150 Lightning, but Stellantis is taking a more delicate approach. What we’re looking at here is a five-link rear suspension setup that should be generally familiar in concept to BMW 3-Series owners.

Stla Frame Rear Suspension

In this case, we have a thrust arm, a semi-trailing arm, an upper control arm, a camber arm, and a track link all working together in harmony. All but the camber arm are aluminum parts, and the track link sits ahead of the CV axle. While this setup will likely pay dividends in ride quality, five-link upkeep can get expensive as bushings start to wear out.

Air strut and rear suspension

It’s also worth noting that this example of STLA Frame uses air suspension which appears to employ a spring-over-damper design. It’s a space-efficient setup that’s a departure from the divorced spring and damper setup Ram is currently using in light-duty trucks, but Ram’s experience with air suspension should play to its advantage.

Overall, there’s lots to like about Stellantis’ STLA Frame architecture. From the multi-link rear suspension to the smart front motor packaging, Ram’s future bones look promising. Expect to see STLA Frame underneath electric pickup trucks in 2024 when we get a glimpse at a production-spec Ram EV.

(Photo credits: Ram, Munro Live)


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45 Responses

  1. While I hate the pickups that never do any work as much as anyone, there are a lot of non-pickup-owners here claiming to know how people use these trucks.
    -96% of super duty owners tow, most regularly (see: MotorTrend and other sources)
    -77% of F150 owners tow, although many of these tow infrequently (see Insider and other sources)

    I’m fortunate enough to have a small car right now I can commute in, but it wasn’t long ago that I had one vehicle. And if you need to tow/haul, that one vehicle is going to be a truck. Even if you only need it on the weekend.

    It’s even arguable that having a second vehicle might be worse than driving said truck to work, from a total pollution standpoint, depending on your commute.

    All of that to really say : that rear suspension sure doesn’t look up to the type of abuse these 2/3/400k mile pickups I see all the time go through. Love the ride benefit, hate the repairs I see in the future. Possibly wrong application for that rear suspension.

    1. Something similar to a gas guzzler tax, an excessive materials use tax, needs to be brought back for overly large, inefficient battery packs in overly large, inefficient vehicles. These battery pack sizes are what are used for class 4-7 EV box and short range semi trucks, having them in passenger vehicles is just a waste of resources, at least until batteries that don’t depend on rare materials are mass produced.

      1. This is how I’ve ALWAYS viewed trucks. I always love when the price of gasoline sky rockets. All the pick up truck drivers pull away from stop lights like sloths.

  2. I have very mixed feelings.

    I like the bumper seats and overall engineering, but the aluminum multilink suspension looks a bit fragile for something that ostensibly should go off-road. Perhaps someone with more off-road experience can correct me.

    I know that EV pickups are important, because the math checks out. By my numbers, a gasoline crossover switching to an EV equivalent saves around 8,000 lb of CO2 per year. For a pickup, it’s about 15,000 lb of CO2 per year. Obviously, it would be better if people who didn’t need pickups switched to something smaller, but that’s a dead-end conversation.

    The thing that bugs me is, I know most people aren’t using their pickups professionally/seriously. They never take their trucks offroad (grass parking lots don’t count) and never haul anything with them (that they couldn’t just as easily cram in a hatchback). Making an EV pickup that’s unsuitable or inconvenient for these tasks — and then successfully selling it — just proves most buyers truly didn’t need these capabilities. It throws into stark relief how BAD the farce really is.

    Like, you’re getting an EV pickup that’s heavier than any passenger vehicle has any right to be, whose bulk and mass is credited with road damage, skyrocketing pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, and the ongoing arms race in crash safety that’s making small sustainable cars impossible.

    And for what? A costume. The automotive equivalent of a desk jockey wearing a cowboy hat and boots.

    Bah, don’t listen to me. This rant isn’t going to solve anything.

    1. “most buyers truly didn’t need these capabilities.”

      The same can be said about any luxury car and any sports car.

      Buying a vehicle is not about needs most of the time.

      If it was, then cars like the Yaris, Mitsu Mirage, Fit and others would be top sellers and pickup trucks would mostly be owned by companies for actual work. And pickup trucks wouldn’t have luxury interiors.

    2. I dunno about “most” truck owners not using them. I work in construction and see them used all the time for truck stuff.
      That’s expected but I also see some interesting cars too, I saw an Oldsmobile Bravada towing way more than it should have this week.

  3. It’s hard to tell from the pictures. Is this sized similar to a full sized pickup we see on the roads today? If so, I suspect it will be too small for the average American commuter and will not sell well. /s

  4. I am very pro-EV. The sad part as EVs get lower, heavier, and more expensive, those of us that have been off-roading our daily drivers will need to, sadly, get a side-by-side and then a giant heavy truck to tow it to the trails. For the I need a truck people, I am glad to see EVs are coming.

    1. I believe the range anxiety present when towing much of anything will definitely be a big concern for half a decade or so. I am not seeing many EV charging stations anywhere near where I wheel.

  5. To my eye, it doesn’t appear like there is much in the way of rear suspension travel. Although considering what it must weigh, it probably just flattens bumps and crushes the edges of potholes anyway, so perhaps no biggie.

  6. I appreciate that it has height adjustable air suspension and that it is body on frame but otherwise I really dislike the concept.

    With the recent snowstorms in my area I’ve found for the first time ever my pickup truck is low on ground clearance, and it made me greatly appreciate height adjustable air suspension setups like what the LR3 & LR4 have. I’m normally a huge fan of solid axles but without putting bigger wheels on your solid axle/s drivetrain clearance stays the same. With height adjustable air suspension your diff has even more ground clearance than normal.

    Honestly I’m no longer considering getting a Mini BEV or a Fiat 500e, they don’t have enough ground clearance and their lack of AWD keeps them from plowing through the soft snow with their front bumper either. The only BEV that is supposed to be sold in the US in the near future that I actually want is the Cybertruck and that’s because it would be a mostly problem free BEV with an amazing trouble free charging network, ultra durable body with no paint I have to worry about getting scratched, AND IT’S SUPPOSED TO COME WITH HEIGHT ADJUSTABLE AIR SUSPENSION!

    Sorry Tesla but I don’t want a Model X, maybe if it came with van doors I’d get one but I won’t get one with those stupid wing doors.

    If Ford came out with a height adjustable air suspension option for the F-150 Lightning along with a 3 seat front row option (like the ICE F-150) and a single cab option I’d almost certainly get one of those, but whoever is first to market will get my money, I’m not buying any mass production new car made after 2026.

    1. Guess you’ve not read the article jason and David did in LA, where they’ve checked a cybertruck.
      It’s not happening. The body is not durable but it’s un-fixable in case of knocks or accident, if they would succeed to put it in production.
      Stainless steel body is a shitty idea, it’s too rigid so it break very easily. Shaped like the cybertruck, it gets very dangerous on top.

    2. You could have used a few years driving a ’78(?) Dodge Omni in western New York to realize you don’t need “HEIGHT ADJUSTABLE AIR SUSPENSION!” to successfully drive in any amount of snow.

  7. The location of the front motor isn’t “smart packaging”, it’s the only place it can go. The limit on driveshaft angles mean that the motor has to line up with the front wheels. Especially with a front motor with a coaxial gearbox like that seems to be.

    This is one of the immovable objects that the rest of the vehicle gets designed around. You can move it in X and Z maybe an inch before your CV joints become less durable.

  8. I’m very interested in their pickup, but also very interested in hearing pricing information. I have a hundred bucks on a Silverado EV reservation, but I had the same on a Lightning until they pulled their stunt with tying the large battery to the XLT Luxury package. If one of these companies allows me to get all the functionality I want without all the extra add-ons, they’ll get my money.

    Sadly, I don’t know when someone will offer that.

    1. You going electric would be a nice idea, it would allow you to get your car pre-cooled or pre-heated without polluting the air for all of us.
      Going for a huge battery truck to move yourself is still a massive waste of ressources to build it and energy to recharge tho’.

      1. I mean, I already use my much smaller PHEV vehicle on electric for most things. I just want to replace my V8 Silverado with an electric pickup to be able to haul stuff and people, especially when doing summer rafting and camping. But, hey, go off about things if you like.

        1. Realistically for the time being only semi-realistic solution for that use-case is going to be a Hybrid. Something like a PHEV with roughly a 30 mile pack for daily driving, and just enough gas engine to reliably pull a trailer down the road. Do that, and you fill both the needs of a weekend warrior pickup, and a daily driver truck.

          The F150 Plugin Hybrid comes pretty close to that actually, but needs about 3 times as much range as the one currently in them. The current 10 miles is just sad, and seems more like a gimmick than an actually usable plugin. Hopefully someone figures it out in the next couple years, as I’d like to have the option in my next truck.

            1. The hybrid F-150 is not all that efficient, and I definitely considered the Maverick, but the towing wasn’t great. If they offer a PHEV Maverick that can give it a bit more power, perhaps by adding an additional electric motor to the rear, then I’d probably not only not go full-size pickup, but consolidate to one vehicle in general.

              1. In fact, if they offer a PHEV Maverick, even if it couldn’t tow much, I’d probably trade in my current PHEV and get rid of my current pickup. I could rent for the amount of towing I do and have the bed for the smaller pickup stuff I do more often.

                1. I mean. I’m in the same trouble boat, right now i’m using only few different classic cars (cause they are already produced, cheap, don’t need more gas then current small turbo 3 you get in new cars, and fits my needs) but europe is putting an end to that with the zfe and forcing us to buy something almost new.
                  I would happily sell all my classics to buy something modern, but i then don’t want several cars; stellantis is producing phev fancy SUV with 2 and 4wd but they don’t want to put this drivetrain in the van that they produce on the same platform, that would fit all my needs.
                  And it’s ridiculous cause my current “do everything” classic is a 1300cm3 flat 4 that can tow 3500lbs and do 28mpg, don’t tell me that a 1600cm3 220hp phev van can’t do the same…

        2. Sorry, i’m always a bit salty at N Americans for their their needs of comfort that translate into over consuming and over polluting.
          I know généralisation is bad but….

          1. It’s a pretty fair generalization. And the number of people here who are against public transit makes it even worse. The best way to reduce individual emissions is to reduce the need for individual vehicles. Instead, we see the push for self-driving cars.

            I’m with you on these things, and I would really like to not need a vehicle.

            1. In my opinion, Americans aren’t against public transportation as much as they’re against useless wasteful public transportation plans.
              While bus routes make sense as they can be changed to meet the needs of the people and they’re not that expensive in the grand scheme of things, They aren’t big sexy projects that stand to benefit the real estate developers who donate large to political campaigns.
              Then there’s this…

          2. (And you aren’t wrong on me prioritizing comfort. MY PHEV is small, but I have ventilated and heated seats and dual-zone climate control. It probably adds unnecessary complexity, but I like it.)

        3. Except that’s still not a realistic option. Go look at the reviews of what towing does to the F150’s range. Reduced by more than half in every one. Now add on camping and kids charging phones, tablets, and everything else because “it’s so convenient” and you’re well and truly fucked there.

          For people who actually use the “truck” part of pickups? BEV has no future. Not in my lifetime, not in your lifetime. The only way to ‘fix’ it is to either magically reduce the battery weight by 50% while increasing capacity 25% (hahaha NOPE,) or to play the idiot’s game of ‘make more range by adding more batteries that add more weight necessitating more batteries to offset that weight which increases the weight so add more batteries…’ Which is the Hummer EV.
          With the most advanced battery technology available not only today but foreseeable in the next 5 to 10 years, a pickup that could pull a 7500lbs trailer 400 miles without charging would end up with a curb weight somewhere around 17,000lbs.

          But somewhere around 60% or 70% of pickup truck buyers don’t ever haul anything more than a few bags of mulch in their entire ownership period. THAT’S who these are actually built for.

          1. “For people who actually use the “truck” part of pickups? BEV has no future.”

            They will eventually. But as you said, they are the minority of truck buyers.

            And over the past decade, battery tech has effectively gotten a lot lighter and with better range. Just compare the 2012 Model S to a new one. The weight increase over the original is mainly due to the additional motor. The battery pack weighs the same or is a bit lighter… and it has around 50% more range over the longest range model you could buy in 2012.

          2. You’re right, and it probably isn’t the best option to go electric. The towing hit is why I would want the increased range, and it is likely wasteful to get all that for the 3 months a year that I would use it (the rest of my use, all I want is a bed, and would prefer a smaller vehicle anyway).
            Luckily, wanting them to offer something that suits my desires at a near-base price means I won’t be doing it anyway.

          3. Right on rootwyrm. I’m very pro-EV, but using light/medium duty EV trucks to tow things just doesn’t make sense right now, even with ginormous batteries. Of course, petroleum-powered trucks take a big range hit when towing also, but it’s pretty easy to gas-n-go with them. The real problem is the charging infrastructure just isn’t designed for big trucks pulling campers or trailers (in addition to the lack of a coherent, well-maintained charging infrastructure to begin with). Show me one fast-charger anywhere in the USA where a truck/trailer combo could pull up and get some juice. They just don’t exist; or at least I’ve never seen one. So until charging stations are built with a “truck stop” layout allowing pull throughs with trailers, the whole idea of towing stuff with your electro-truck ist kaput. I wish the EV industry would focus on smaller, more energy efficient vehicles instead of 4-second 0-60 times or gigantic truck/SUV fright-pigs.

            1. This was discussed ad nauseum on the Airstream EV article, and the general consensus (or maybe just mine) was that electrified trailers are a horrifyingly bad use of limited battery resources. Sticking a car-sized battery in a trailer that gets used a handful of times a year (if that) is incredibly wasteful, especially since the batteries will degrade over time whether they’re used or not.

              1. A fair point if the trailer is privately owned; however even then that trailer can serve as a massive, mobile PowerWall. That would be quite useful, especially if it can be used to power the house for days during extended blackouts.

                They can also be used as rentals where they should get daily, rather than a couple times a year use.

          4. One of the issues that we have right now is thinking that we need a 100% solution that handles all edge cases.

            If we could get 80% of the fleet converted, it would go a long way towards fixing things.

            Problem is that nobody is willing to accept a practical solution over a final one.

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