Ram Confirms Midsize Pickup Concept In Development

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And it already has everything it needs to put it into production.

Ram's CEO, Mike Koval, has made yet another strong statement regarding the brand's entry into the midsize truck segment with a vehicle smaller than the Ram 1500. Koval spoke to Automotive News and said he's considering showing Ram dealers an early concept version of the truck to see whether there's interest, with March 2023 being the estimated timeframe for the concept.

Koval is likely cautious due to what happened with Dodge's last midsize effort, the Dakota. Dakota sales were at an all-time high in 2000, when Dodge sold 177,395. Sales dropped slowly but surely over the next decade until Dodge pulled the plug in 2011. That year, only 12,156 were sold.

At the time, Dodge was part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) group, under the leadership of the late Sergio Marchionne, who stated that there wasn't enough demand to justify the cost of developing a replacement.

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Two significant things have happened since then. Demand for small to midsize pickups skyrocketed, and FCA was incorporated into Stellantis. Mike Koval will use both to his advantage.

"We've always said we know that on a global basis, probably the biggest area, the biggest white space opportunity for our brand to grow, has been the midsize pickup," said Koval. "We're looking at it, believe me, I am. We'll see, but I am thinking about bringing it and giving our dealers a sneak peek."

In an earlier interview with Koval at the New York Motor Show, Koval mentioned having access to the entire Stellantis fleet. "One of the beautiful things about being part of a global company like Stellantis is the synergy," said Koval. "As CEO of Ram, I'm looking at all of it to find an opportunity to attack."

Mitsubishi Motors South Africa/Facebook

Koval was also specific about brand identity on a global scale, which is worth keeping in mind. Ram might be interested in taking a new midsize truck international, given the success of the TRX. The TRX made people globally sit up and take notice, even in countries where it could not legally be sold. A more affordable midsize truck at least gives these audiences a chance to buy into the brand.

According to Randy Dye, chairman of the Stellantis National Dealer Council, a smaller Ram needs to be more than a smaller 1500. Thanks to pickup trucks like the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz, expectations in the smaller segments have shifted drastically.

Ram could use the same platform as the Jeep Gladiator (itself based on Ram 1500 architecture), but it's aimed at a niche audience. A wiser move might be to use the existing Fiat Fullback/Mitsubishi Triton platform, which has an ace up its sleeve; it's already sold as the Ram 1200 in Chile and the UAE.

Mitsubishi Motors South Africa/Facebook

The problem is that this platform is already dated, and Mitsubishi is well into the development of a next-generation model that will be shared globally with Nissan.

We previously reported on Stellantis developing a new Ram 1200 for South America with Tigershark and Multijet engine options, as well as hybridization, which was to be built at a Jeep facility in Brazil. This seems like a more likely candidate but would need to be developed, or redeveloped, with the USA in mind. American buyers require refinement and capability, as well as interiors that don't feel "third world." It's why the previous-gen Ford Ranger required an overhaul to be ready for the US market, while the new one has been developed with the global audience, US included, in mind.

A third option could be the Fiat Toro - a midsize truck from South America with unibody construction. This is highly unlikely, as Ram trucks need to be real trucks, and we doubt a Ram buyer would buy into a unibody platform like the Honda Ridgeline's, even though camouflaged Toros were previously spied on US soil.

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Fiat
Source Credits: Automotive News

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