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Last Ram Dakota to be built today

by Bill Cawthon on

The last Ram Dakota pickup will leave the assembly line at the Warren Truck Plant today, ending a 25-year run that began with a true mid-size Dodge pickup introduced in the fall of 1986 as a 1987 model and ending with a pickup almost as big and expensive as the full-size Ram 1500. In recent years, it’s likely that sales of the Dakota have come at the expense of the full-size Ram and Chrysler executives are hoping the disappearance of the Dakota will mean increased sales for the larger truck.

The Dakota is the first of the American less-than-full-size pickups to reach the end of the line, but the writing is on the wall for the others. The Ford Ranger will be 29 when it ends its run in December. The General Motors Colorado and Canyon will go out of production next year when the Shreveport, Louisiana, plant closes, though GM says there will be a replacement vehicle.

While size and price were among the factors in the decision to end production of the Dakota, a larger factor is the decline in sales of compact pickups. What market there is for the smaller trucks is dominated by the Toyota Tacoma and the Nissan Frontier.

Ram brand CEO Fred Diaz has said a new vehicle to replace the Dakota in the Ram lineup is being considered but no decisions have yet been made.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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