Welcome to Further Details, a series dedicated to ubiquitous but overlooked elements hidden on your favorite products. This week: the hidden math formulas inside the Ram 1500 pickup truck.
When Ram launched its new 1500 pickup for the 2019 model year, it took the automotive world by storm with its blend of style and substance. But one subtle feature may have given many of those owners who discovered it pause: the collection of mathematical charts and tables under the center console lid. Tucked away on the underside of the lid, right between the driver and front passenger, are rulers, wrench and fraction/decimal conversion charts, a right angle, a protractor, trigonometry formulas — even the Pythagorean theorem.
Why are all those math charts there? We spoke with Ram to find out.
As it turns out, Ram’s parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, includes so-called “Easter eggs” — hidden features designed to reward careful attention — on many new vehicles. The practice started with Jeep, and has since moved to other brands. Designers incorporate them because they are fun and relatively easy to include.
“They’re free, in a sense,” Ram’s chief interior designer Ryan Nagode told us. “It doesn’t take that much effort to throw something [fun] in there, from a cost perspective.”
Many Easter eggs exist just there to be cute. But the math information on the console lid serves a functional purpose — one beyond assisting the odd Ram owner who needs to stop, drop and perform some trigonometry. It actually solves an issue that came up during the manufacturing process.
When creating the new pickup, Ram tried several ways of pouring the plastic for the lid into the mold. The only way the mold would fill correctly was to drop the plastic directly in the middle, but this created a visible area where the plastic fell: the drop circle.
For most parts, this would not be an issue; interior components are typically only viewed from one side. But the console lid gets viewed from both sides. The designers needed a way to mask the drop circle, one that would still making the part feel appropriate for their new vehicle.
“All of it was based on trying to hide that center circle drop area,” Nagode said. “This lid…opens up pretty far so you can access the bin pretty well — [so] you really stare at the bottom of this tray.”
The idea for filling that space with mathematical charts came to them while working with tools for other projects.
“One day, we had some drawing tools on my desks, and one of them had a metric conversion –a little chart on it,” Nagode said. “And we’re just looking at a protractor and a right angle that were sitting on our desks, and we thought, wouldn’t it be funny to use this opportunity to [put that sort of thing] on a piece like this? [That way, it] could all relate back to building, and the creation of things.”
So, there you have it. The formulas and charts tie back to the inherent reason many buyers choose a pickup truck: work. Somewhat ironically, the math helpers appear on every Ram 1500 equipped with a center console and front bucket seats…which means the basic Tradesman trim most likely to be used as an actual work truck goes without them. It has a bench seat up front.