First the Chevy Colorado returned, then the Ford Ranger. Could the Ram Dakota be far behind?
The midsize pickup segment is one of the hottest in the industry right now and sales are skyrocketing. The Toyota Tacoma saw a huge 24 percent jump in 2018, and it was already by far the best-seller, while even the ancient Nissan Frontier was up 7 percent last year.
After the Big Three abandoned the class early in the decade to concentrate on full-size trucks, Chevy resurrected the Colorado in 2015 to great success, while Ford is following with the Ranger this year.
Fiat Chrysler’s brands have been out of the game since the Dakota was discontinued in 2011, but it’s sort of getting back into it this year with the Jeep Gladiator. Unlike the other trucks, however, the Gladiator is positioned only as a high-end lifestyle vehicle, with starting prices expected to be over $32,000.
JEEP BOSS TIM KUNISKIS ON THE GLADIATOR:
With some work trucks costing as little as $20,000, there’s plenty of room for Fiat Chrysler to expand its offerings downward, and CEO Mike Manley revealed on the company’s earnings call on Thursday that its looking into doing just that.
“The only vehicle missing in our portfolio is metric ton pickup which is midsize pickups in the U.S. I'm working hard with the team to try and solve that,” Manley told an analyst who’d asked if it was bringing back the Dakota.
“I haven't solved it yet, but if that gets solved, it will give us the opportunity to bring a midsize truck in the marketplace.”
Manley didn't elaborate on what exactly needs to be solved to bring it to fruition, but factors like where it will be built and whether or not it would share a platform with the Gladiator or use its own are all possibilities.
The Dakota was first launched as a Dodge in 1987, and was for a short time offered as a convertible. Over 175,000 were sold in 2000, but a decade later the number dropped close to 10,000 as the automaker was struggling to recover from bankruptcy.