StaffAllpar HomeMore NewsCarsTrucksUpcomingRepairsTest drives

A more realistic midsize Ram plan

by David Zatz on

Recently, spy shots of a midsized pickup being tested by Fiat Chrysler surfaced. Quite probably meant for Brazilian production (there is a spot in the plan for it), it is essentially a bigger version of the little Fiat Strada, also sold as the Ram 700 in Mexico. It is highly unlikely ever to make it to the United States.

The new pickup’s capability isn’t what American truck buyers expect, and federalizing would be stunningly expensive. There would be heavy Federal taxes on any imported pickups, too, which would mean adapting some plant to make a probably-slow-selling pickup for US/Canadian sale — adding another billion or two in cost, which one reason why it hasn’t happened yet.

There is also a Mitsubishi mid-sized pickup being adapted for Mexican sale, which would fit between the Ram 700 and Ram 1500. That’s not unprecedented in the US — the old Ram 50 was a long-selling compact pickup made by Mitsubishi for Dodge. However, it still seems unlikely.

What seems most likely is that, should the midsize pickup market truly gather steam, Dodge will repeat the plan from the second generation Dodge Dakota: engineer a new pickup based on the 1500, and build it in the same plant, on the same line. In 1997, this sent sales skywards, without adding excess cost.

The Dakota could hold a V8 under the hood (the only truck in the class to do so) and still be light enough to manage with an old AMC four-cylinder (though it was eventually dropped).

Basing the Dakota off the Ram meant lower up-front production and engineering costs, more shared parts, and the ability to make both at the same plant. Turning to Fiat or Mitsubishi for a midsize truck would like cost as much money and time as building a more market-appropriate Ram 1500-based pickup.

A heavier duty, larger truck than even the enlarged Strada could be sold in Europe at last, depending on its width, weight, price, and economy. There would be some overlap in size, perhaps, but it would be a far more upscale pickup, with higher capabilities and a higher price — better matching Fiat’s worldwide plan of “going premium” than a Strada-based pickup would be, while also providing an alternative to the Volkswagen Anorak (and not causing an unhealthy reliance on Mitsubishi).

It could even be part of a worldwide Dodge brand. With Chrysler being withdrawn from Europe, bringing Dodge back as an “undiluted American overkill” brand is possible, if not likely. The smaller Ram pickup could be sold as a Dodge, alongside the muscle cars, Dart GT, and a Dodge Voyager (if Fiat doesn’t nab the now-slow-selling minivans first).

This all depends on what American customers buy and, probably, the fortunes of Alfa Romeo and the Ram 1500. It’s also likely several years out — if it is to be developed, it would probably be alongside, and a year or two behind, the next generation Ram 1500, which is not due for three years (though a refresh is due next year).

Know & Go screens
Employees created new FCA US app—first available to Ram TRX

Newest Ram Built to Serve models honor the U.S. Air Force

Former Ram chief engineer Michael J. Cairns

More Mopar Car
and Truck News

Some popular Allpar pages

Dodge Demon

2018 Wrangler JL

Staff details/contactsTerms of ServiceInformation is presented to the best of our knowledge. Plans change and sometimes mistakes are made. Decisions or purchases made based on this site's verbiage or images are done at the reader's own risk. Also see the Allpar News archives, 1997-2008 • Copyright © VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved. • Mopar, Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, HEMI, and certain other names are trademarks of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.