By on March 26, 2016

2016 Fiat Toro

A top Ram executive is heading to Brazil next week as the truck maker increasingly cozies up to the idea of adding a smaller pickup to its lineup.

The trip comes after Mike Manley, global head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Jeep and Ram brands, told The Detroit News that an “opportunity” exists in the U.S. midsize pickup market.

“I think that space is big enough, certainly, to have two offerings there,” Manley said at last week’s New York Auto Show, referring to the recently-announced Wrangler pickup and a hypothetical Ram model.

The midsize market, dominated by the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins and Toyota Tacoma, has shown considerable growth and has the potential to benefit an automaker willing to add a third entry.

Manley didn’t confirm a new Ram, but the trip to Brazil by Ram International head Bob Hegbloom clearly signals the beginning of a product strategy. Hegbloom will be looking at partnership opportunities between Ram and the company’s Latin American Fiat division, Manley said.

Without its own midsize architecture, and with little capacity to develop and produce such a vehicle in the U.S. (where focus remains on the strong-selling Ram 1500 and 2500 models), tapping Fiat could be the only way forward.

In the Brazilian market, Fiat has just rolled out its new Toro pickup, while FCA’s Mexico factory produces the Fiat Fullback pickup (based on the Mitsubishi L200).

The Toro is a unibody four-door pickup based on the Fiat Small-Wide platform that underpins the Jeep Renegade. Power comes from a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine or 2.0-liter diesel four, mated to a six-speed manual or six- or nine-speed automatic transmission.

When Hegbloom was head of Ram’s North American division (a post now occupied by former Jeep head Jim Morrison), he bemoaned the fact that the company couldn’t attain the fuel economy ratings needed to market a smaller pickup alongside the larger Ram.

That was then, but now the winds of change seem to be blowing…from south of the border.

[Image: Fiat Toro, FCA Group]

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144 Comments on “Will an FCA Executive Return From Brazil With a New Ram?...”


  • avatar

    Please God don’t let them make the RAM’s look like feminist-trucks. Keep them big and bold and menacing…

  • avatar
    Ltd1983

    Just what FCA needs, some old Fiat platforms kept around for third world use, rebadged as RAM’s.

    Surely this will solve their reputation for poor reliability and noncompetitive products in the US…

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    That front end could be pretty handsome if they deleted the snake eyes, chrome strip and Fiat emblem, kind of an old Mustangy face.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    The Wrangler pickup is going to own the midsize truck market, it and the Tacoma are going to easily take 70% market share within 6 years imo. This is a waste of time on the scale of Ridgeline. I’m not sure the point in continuing to even think about this.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      If FCA were to put out a compact FWD/AWD unibody trucklet (something the size of the old Ram 50), then it would maybe be worthwhile. But competing with itself in the same segments is what killed Chrysler’s own marques in the past (see: DeSoto, Plymouth).

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I agree, a true compact pickup, maybe, it would at very least be more likely to succeed, but going after the midsize market, and with that itself, is a massive waste of time, money, and effort.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Neither compete with full-size BOF trucks. The difference is that the Ridgeline comes with a 300 hp V6 and is wide enough to occasionally carry plywood home from Home Depot while the Fiat Toro has a small 4 cylinder engine and a bed only suitable for carrying plants from the nursery section.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Anything smaller than a Wrangler Pickup/ Tacoma will not work in the US. It’s not customer preference, it’s economics. By the time a compact pickup is fitted to US safety standards/emissions/expected levels of equipment/etc it will cost just as much as a Tacoma, but be much smaller and less capable.

        The whole “Dem other trucks too darn big, I only need this here lil one” crowd (all 35 members) will snap them up, but they won’t be a sales success.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          I don’t think it will compete with the Wrangler pickup or Tacoma.

          To me it appears to be an entry for buyers looking for a small four-door sedan, with a bed.

          IOW, a small All-Purpose Vehicle, or APV.

          Where the four-door full-size half-ton pickup truck has become the replacement of choice for ye olde four-door sedans, this entry may become the eventual replacement of the Compact four-door sedan.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            highdesertcat,
            Why try and change the name of a vehicle?

            Do we identify smaller cars with a different name? They are still cars.

            This is a pickup, a small pickup, but still a pickup in the truest sense.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “this entry may become the eventual replacement of the Compact four-door sedan.”

            Such a trucklet, if Japanese or Korean, would be a nifty alternative to Encore-class CUVs, too.

            It’s ground clearance would give a far more senior-friendly ingress geometry and even the vestigial bed could probably handle toting a larger appliance, assembled bookshelf or narrower hutch home from yard/estate sales in addition to tall things from the nursery and yard waste.

            Cool runabout for oldsters who’d like to preserve some garage space and have no intention of ever again lugging lumber or drywall. That’s what remodellers are for.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            This thing would/will compete primarily with the other little CUV trucklet that’s been proposed. The Hyundai Santa Cruz.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          You know, somebody once said, “People typically don’t know what they want until they see it.” I suggest you not make assumptions about a market until a vehicle actually addresses that market, hmmm?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Hummer,
      The Wrangler will not “own” the midsize market any more than it owns the SUV segment. It will be popular, but as popular as a Taco or even the Colorado/Canyon?

      A Wrangler pickup will knock off sales from it’s other Wrangler brethren more so than take sales from other midsize pickups.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Actually the Wrangler is the best selling SUV in America in all size categories, so yes, I absolutely believe they can also take home the prize for best selling midsize pickup.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Hummer,
          That still doesn’t represent “owning the market”.

          It is a good seller and the best selling SUV. That’s is a far cry from “owning”.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            ~202k units last year in the US alone, another ~20k in Canada. They own the market bar none, the next 2 best selling SUVs are the 4Runner which did right around ~99k units and the Tahoe which did right around 88k units. So the wrangler sells more than double of the next best seller.

      • 0 avatar

        It used to be the #1 cross shopped vehicle with the Wrangler was the Taco. I assume that a large percentage of potential wrangler buyers who went to Taco for a bed will buy this (the others I assume are a FCA vs Toyota thing) So I see The Tacoma losing sales ground to a wrangler pickup rather rapidly.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        The Wrangler SUV now sells roughly 200,000 vehicles per year, which is a pretty big piece of the BoF SUV market even if it isn’t the largest piece. That’s twice that of the GM C-twins and not all THAT far away from the Tacoma. Granted, it’s not a pickup truck yet, but even if the truck version sells 50-75 thousand units per year, it’s on par with at least the GMC Canyon, if not better.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Doubt it well, same FCA problems with reliability, that will kill it

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        The newest iterations of Wranglers seem pretty reliable just on the basis of their simplicity. The Pentastar V6 is so far so good and there really aren’t a whole lot of electronics to go wrong. This is of course before modification.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Mandalorian, they’re not terrible, but between the pentastar cracked head issue, the expected water leaks, and less than long-lasting suspension components (namely ball joints) they’re not totally trouble free either. Supposedly at least the engines are sorted now.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “pentastar cracked head issue”

            What? I haven’t seen an instance of that in a lot of data.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            danio, during Pentastar engine manufacturing in 2010 there was a batch of Pentastar engines that was not properly rinsed and metal grinding and shavings remained inside the block that caused damage, but no cracks.

            Those engines were recalled and replaced by Fiatsler in 2011 and 2012.

            Hopefully the UAW workers reponsible for this corner-cutting were also fired, but I doubt it.

  • avatar
    RHD

    This trucklet would need some sort of ace in the hole to be a success. Either a very competitive low price, a long warranty, lots of ad promotion, outstanding fuel economy or a combination of these. It has to earn a reputation for quality and dependability. There has to be a convincing reason to buy the Toro instead of a more capable load-carrier or a SUV.
    A rename might not be a bad idea… for those of use to whom Toro immediately brings to mind a lawn mower.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Yes.

      As former member of the small truck brigade, I expect that a smaller truck will have:
      1) significantly fuel economy
      2) lower price
      3) easier to manouver in tight spaces (good sight lines)
      4) a bed big enough to haul 4’x8′ sheet goods back from the hardware store on weekends.

      My 1998 Ranger did all of these things, compared to the full sized trucks of the time. (Though the way the wheel wells intruded into the bed was a long term annoyance that could have easily been engineered away.) But the Ranger became obsolete and was never replaced.

      It needed full time AWD and efficiency/safety/NVH improvements in order to compete with used Rangers. One killer feature that could have been ported from the Explorer would have been the AWD (as opposed to 4×4), since the RWD system in it was lousy except when the truck was fully loaded.

      I’d love to own another small truck one day. But, honestly I got rid of it because my needs changed. A truck with the MPG if a full sized car made sense for a handy 20-something. Now, I’m in more of a minivan stage of life. I might buy another weekend utility truck when my kids are a bit older.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        This “needs to haul 4×8” meme needs to stop, at least when applied to compact pickups. No pickup smaller than the Dakota has ever been able to haul 4×8 anything with the tailgate up.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Who ever said it had to have the tailgate up? The idea is to have it lie flat and even the old compacts had a four-foot-wide tailgate and some even had built-in pockets so you could lay a 2×4 down front and rear as a shelf to hold them flat over the wheel wells. Four foot wide BETWEEN the wheel wells would be nice, but that adds about 15″ to the width of the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Want a bet it gets called the RAM 1000?
      There’s already a RAM 700 in Mexico… based on the Fiat Strada.

  • avatar
    RHD

    So, if FCA decides to import the Toro, what should they call it?

    Ram Blur

    Ram Bo

    Add your suggestions!

  • avatar
    dwford

    Hyundai has a very similar vehicle coming in the Santa Cruz, so maybe this is a new product category forming. Not everyone needs even the capability of the midsize trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “maybe this is a new product category forming” That is a distinct possibility what with all the dumbing down, getting us to drive ever smaller cars with puny squirrel engines.

      When Toyota and Datsun first brought their stick-shift tiny-truck imports to America, way back when, people who bought them thought of them as “nimble daily drivers, with a bed.”

      Could we be witnessing the return of the Dakota?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        highdesertcat,
        You now have the Dakota, it’s called the midsize segment, ie, Taco, Frontier, Colorado/Canyon and Ridgeline.

        FCA will not introduce a Dakota. It will use the Mitsubishi Triton platform instead, which is the a “smallish” midsizer.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        Well, given the absurd capability of the full size trucks today, and even the mid sizers, theres plenty of room below for a real light duty truck. It doesn’t even have to pretend to be a real truck, maybe it would be better if thesis new trucklets didn’t try to look and act like the big boys.

        I see a nice Hyundai Santa Cruz AWD, with a 2.0T motor, capable of hauling say 800lbs in the bed and tow 3000lbs. But instead of pretending to be a truck, how about it give off a Focus ST vibe?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          dwford, that’s the way I see it too. After all we have full-size trucks. We have mid-size trucks.

          So there is room for compact or even sub-compact trucks.

          The last time I was in Japan I noticed all these tiny little trucks mingled in among the traffic.

          We could be seeing these come to our shores in the future and the Toro may set a new trend.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      dwford,
      This segment is not “new” it has existed for decades, just not in the US. Product has been available, globally as well.

      The Santa Cruz looks like a nice vehicle, it would of been better if the Santa Cruz was offered as a single cab as well. I think most who buy them will be single and young or old farts who need to go down to Home Depot to buy a few hinges and a bag of garden mulch.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        The old farts might buy the regular cab, but kids today have friends to haul around and would need the 4 doors. There’s a reason there aren’t many sporty coupes these days.

        • 0 avatar
          JustPassinThru

          Yeah. Much-higher insurance rates for two-doors.

          So, I guess the insurance actuators figure GED kids drive safer in four-door hoopdies.

          Which makes as much sense as anything out of a bureaucracy.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            JustPassinThru, I agree with what you wrote about the inflated insurance rates.

            It, too, is a ploy to separate someone with as much of their money as the insurance company can.

            However, there is a way around all that, and that is to carry only the State-mandated minimum insurance coverage on the vehicles.

            All my cars carry only the minimum because I own them outright.

            But if a buyer finances or leases, they’re at the mercy of the finance company, and fair game for bank-busting insurance rates.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      This soon to be little Lamb, I mean Ram could directly compete with the Honda Ridgeline.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Thumbs up to you, dwford. Far too many people THINK they know what drivers want; very few actually know.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    This could possibly be a good move by FCA/Ram.

    In Australia we had the Proton Jumbuck ute that created a niche market. It was cheap and economical with it’s 1.6 litre engine. It was probably a little smaller than this Toro.

    Ram only need to sell a couple thousand or even a thousand a month to make this worthwhile.

    It seems some traditional diehard US pickup supporters don’t realise that the US pickup is a car alternative and like cars it might be a good idea to have a range of sizes and styles of the pickup/ute.

    Do pickups need to sell one million a year to prove themselves? Does a vehicle that sells 50 000 a year make it any less successful? Look at the car or even the SUV segment, you guys have choice, but not so in the pickup segment.

    This is a good move by FCA.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “Do pickups need to sell one million a year to prove themselves? Does a vehicle that sells 50 000 a year make it any less successful?”

      You remain a special person.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        RideHeight,
        I should of expanded my comment, sorry.

        If the US sells even 30 000 of a particular model that is global, how does this make it a failure?

        What it does is give the consumer choice, in a restricted and protected vehicle segment in the US.

        Plus the platform this Ram Micro is based on is common. So maintenance shouldn’t be a worry.

        I do believe FCA should introduce this.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @BAFO – Can you expand on what’s being “restricted” and what exactly is being “protected”?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          To support Big Al, most auto companies try for a minimum of 100K units per year to declare it “successful”. The GM twins combined made that goal last year even though the GMC model itself fell abysmally short. As such, his argument isn’t that far from the truth.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Forget about Australia and all its “choices”. It’s a virtual dumping ground for utes with subpar crash standards and unacceptable emissions. Even without the chicken tax, how many units (sold a year) do you think Proton would have to clear before it’s worth their while to meet normal US regulations?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    FCA is a serious pop in the price of oil away from being on death watch.

    How could they have screwed this bailout up as bad as they have. They’re in worse shape then they were 10 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      You’re assuming that FCA screwed up the bailout of Chrysler. I think it was a brilliant plan on the part of Fiat/Sergio, and masterfully executed to satisfy all their corporate wants and needs.

      I see the bailout of Chrysler, and the $1.3B bribe to get Fiat to take Chrysler’s carcass off our hands, as a means to an end for Fiat.

      Fiat certainly achieved and accomplished everything they set out to do before and after they agreed to take in the failed US automaker formerly known as Chrysler.

      And I look for Fiatsler in the future to further distance itself from the UAW and US-production by growing and expanding elsewhere and importing into the US under NAFTA and TPP, Trump or no Trump.

      I wish we, the people, had done the same for GM. GM was much worse than Chrysler. Chrysler had Daimler engineering and R&D, to wit: the Chrysler 300, Grand Cherokee and upgraded RAM.

      GM had nothing in the past, has nothing now, and will have nothing in the future, except tons more recalls, law suits and people being killed by their faulty products.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      FCA didn’t exist 10 years ago and they’re in significantly better shape today than they were prior to becoming FCA on both sides of the water. It seems Jeep itself is a major factor in that improvement but they’re certainly not riding solely on the laurels of two or three Jeep models; many of their native European brands are seeing improvements, especially Fiat itself.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The Wrangler gets a truck half brother and the Renegade gets a truck half brother. People will buy a Rubicon or Hellcat Wrangler truck. This thing needs to sell on price; 15K for the base and 22k for the loaded model. Any higher prices get into mid-size truck prices.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    How about calling it the Toro Recycler. Just add a mowing deck. Just kidding. I agree with HDC it would be a new classification as an APV since it has multiple functions and it is based on a front wheel drive platform. This would be a good vehicle the those who want a truck for weekend runs but do not need a full size or midsize truck. Actually if they based a compact truck on something like the Dodge D-50/Mitsubishi Mightly Max it would be a perfect size (those were unibody with rails instead of a frame). FCA could contract the production out to Mitsubishi. Call the new truck a Ram 50 or an R-50.

    El Scoto–If a compact truck were made in Mexico or China then FCA could meet that price of 15k to 20k. At that price point FCA would make money and it would not require them to sell 500k or more. If the Pacific trade agreement is passed then that would eventually allow smaller trucks in without a 25% tariff. FCA could outsource the production of this truck. I just bought a new MTD riding mower with a Chinese made engine similar to a Briggs motor. OHV with a spin on oil filter. For $1100 it was a good buy with many features that are on more expensive mowers.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      I see that Fiat builds a truck in Mexico based on the bones of the Mitsubishi L200. So why not a Ram?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Steve Biro,
        I’m actually surprised that the US via FCA and even Mitsubishi don’t sell the Triton (L200) ute in your market.

        It is quite a good seller here, similar in fashion to all FCA products in Australia, the Triton sells on price. It’s around $10 000AUD cheaper than a Ranger/Hilux/BT50. But like FCA you pay sh!t and you receive unreliablesh!t to drive.

        The Triton is much lighter in construction, drivetrain, suspension, etc. In all seriousness I would rather a Chinese Foton Tunland pickup with the little Cummins in it than a Triton.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “Actually if they based a compact truck on something like the Dodge D-50/Mitsubishi Mightly Max it would be a perfect size (those were unibody with rails instead of a frame). ”

      I would argue that as I owned a Mitsubishi Sport pickup (same as D-50/Mighty Max with bigger engine) and the bed was very definitely separate from the cab, making it a BoF trucklet. As I recall, only the Rabbit trucklet was a unibody; all the rest at least before ’84 were BoF.

      • 0 avatar

        The VW caddy, Dodge Rampage, Subaru Baja, Jeep Commanche (sort of), and Honda ridgeline I think complete the list of unibody pickups sold in the USA.

        • 0 avatar

          Oh and Brat

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          And here I thought you were talking about 80s-vintage rigs. As for the Rampage, it was good for what it was, though more toy than truck while the Baja simply didn’t have enough bed; it was a wagon with the top removed behind the back seats. Even so, had it held out for one more year I might be driving one of them rather than my current Wrangler. The Jeep Commanche doesn’t count… yet. It’s not a production vehicle. Personally, I like it but it needs to be an extended cab while keeping that same bed length.

          • 0 avatar

            I was trying to name every unibody ever sold in the US not current ones. The original Comanche had a separate bed with a hybrid unibody cab and extended frame rails welded to the unibody.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            That makes me wonder about a few others as I remember watching an S-10 in a demolition derby a couple years back fold in two when it got sandwiched, and yet continued to move under its own power until it got hit again and started dragging its tail in the dirt. The fold was right at the bed/cab gap.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    This is a very good move for them, the platform is already federalized. Small SUVs are still selling, and a small unibody pickup isn’t a stretch at all. Especially since Hyundai already has the Santa Cruz coming at some point.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Well…given what CAFE has made trucks into…two-row seating, or else impossible mileage requirements…if Ram is going to make a little truck with a huge cabin and a tiny box in the rear…

    …then why not just rework the Dart platform, take the rear deck lid off and turn the quarter-panels up a little higher? A vertical backlight, a tailgate, and just so everyone gets the idea, put in some ersatz-wood plastic stake sides. Presto! The platform made viable!

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Explain how CAFE forced trucks to become crew cabs. Remember that Ram and Toyota (and, until 2015, Ford) use the same wheelbase on their RCLB, EC, and CCSB models.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Drzhivago138.
        CAFE Footprint. A dual cab with a usable length bed requires a longer wheelbase.

        Plus, the pickup has become a car/SUV and not so much a truck as the pickups of yore. This also impacted the pickup.

        There you have it.

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        There are different CAFE standards for small trucks, and trucks with less than four-person seating.

        I’m not sure of the exact standards but it is why there is no more Ranger or S-10 truck – the mileage requirements for that size truck are pure fantasy. It’s why the Toyota and Nissan offerings are mid-size and higher; and why the standard-cab Tacoma went away.

        Additional seating in the cab puts the truck into another class – one that’s feasible to comply with.

        Little trucks are dead, killed by regulations put down allegedly to save fuel. Think of the irony there.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          JustPassinThru,
          8 500lbs is the magic number for CAFE. Vehicles under this weight all play by the same rules now.

          Pickup used to be classified differently under CAFE.

          CAFE is the reason for the aluminium F-150, those ridiculous airdams on the front of SUVs/pickups, etc.

          I do believe that pricing fuel to modify culture is the best way. Then the additional money can be spent on badly needed transport infrastructure. So if you want a V8 you can have one with no limitations or if you want to be more economical you can buy a V6 or diesel.

          • 0 avatar
            JustPassinThru

            I’ll have to research it – I’d read an explanation a long time ago, maybe not a correct one. It was to explain why trucks like the Hardbody and Gen-1 Tacoma and Ranger were going away – the reasoning being that two-place vehicles of that size had to meet standards put down by politicians and enforced by bureaucrats and with no justification in science.

            I never checked further since I don’t design trucks or write laws. I don’t really know why I can’t get a new small truck anymore – I just can’t

            I do believe that the reasonable solution is to LET THE CONSUMER BUY WHAT IT IS HE WANTS. Right now this law, supposedly to save fuel, puts people, some of them who don’t need a big truck or a six-place vehicle, into these Bro-Dozer New Age monstrosities. Granted they’re more fuel-efficient than similar size rigs of twenty years ago.

            But they’re not more economical to run OR BUY than my old Nissan King Cab was.

            Making an economic matter, fuel prices, into a political football (even more than it is now) just compounds the problem even further.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @JPT – Little trucks went away, long before current regulations. Consumers just stopped buying them, so “small truck” makers went up-size, chasing consumer wants.

      Yes there was a dramatic surge in mini-truck sales in the mid ’80s, but it was just a very hot trend at the time. Think any ’80s trend.

      You say: “LET THE CONSUMER BUY WHAT IT IS HE WANTS”. That should be the case, except there has to be adequate consumer demand, or it’s the vehicle is a loser for car makers.

      But it shouldn’t be tough for a small truck to get far better fuel economy, vs. say a midsize or even fullsize truck, but it is tough. Certain laws of physics come into play here. 40 mpg is reasonable for a compact car with 2 passengers, so a Moped should get at least 400 mpg, or so you’d think.

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        I’d believe that; except that the Ranger-size trucks stayed around until…gee, seven years ago. When the CAFE standards were upped.

        To this day, the used Gen1 Tacomas command a premium price. I cannot see paying $8000 for a fourteen-year-old truck, no matter how well cared for; but that’s what sellers ask and often get. So…obviously, the demand is there – strong demand.

        I understand about economies of scale. But the standard-cab current Tacoma, granted, a mid-sized truck now, went away with the 2014 year. I don’t believe there are ANY standard-cab pickups left. We don’t ALL have children to lug around; and small businesses don’t all need the storage space for gofer trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Regular cab Frontiers went away in ’00, a good decade before CAFE dreamed up the “footprint” thing. And Toyota was (and is) so far ahead of CAFE, it flushes ‘credits’ down the drain. Canada is further removed from CAFE, yet Toyota ended the regular cab Tacomas there in ’00.

          But what’s a “Ranger-size” truck? If you’re talking ‘width’, most went “midsize” by the mid ’90s. The Dakota was midsize from the start.

          We can blame regulations all day, but it all comes down to what sells, and what car makers prefer to sell. Bigger, longer, wider, taller, 4 door trucks justify a bigger price tag. Regular cabs were the ‘loss leader’ too many were taking advantage of. Once ordered (if offered), they must be made.

          Mostly, sales of the last years of the Ranger went to fleet buyers, regular cabs especially.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          JustPassinThru,
          I agree with you in relation to the absence of the midsize pickups in the US.

          A number of factors played into it’s decline. The most significant is the lack of a decent, in which I mean refined and capable alternative to the 1/2 ton pickup.

          Up until the Colorado/Canyon all midsizers on offer in the US were antiquated. Even the Ranger sat on a decades old platform.

          GM with it’s midsize twins has highlighted the deficiency in the midsize segment with it’s sales. As a matter of fact proportionally midsizers have witnessed larger growth than the 1/2 ton pickups.

          CAFE does play a role in making it harder to produce midsizers as well, but this also impacts 1/2 ton pickups, hence the aluminium wunder trux from Ford, an unnecessary cost burden to the consumer.

          You also have limitations/constraints placed on the commercial vehicle segment via the chicken tax (25%). For a manufacturer to make a pickup viable for the US and produced in the US/NAFTA the factory has to produce 100 000 pickups a year.

          You just can’t import 20 or 30 thousand pickups from overseas to sell. If that occurred it would unsettle the established pickup manufacturers (read UAW as well) in the US/NAFTA trading bloc. This has reduced some great pickups on offer in the US.

          Even that Chev Colorado in my post below can’t be imported into the US. It’s a pity.

          I do believe you’ll see a larger range of pickups become available, like the one in this article over the next decade or so.

          The pickup not only in the US but globally has and is becoming an alternative family vehicle. This leads me to believe that the “truckiness” of the pickup will gradually become less prominent.

          People like BTR look at the size of the grille on a pickup to determine it’s sense of power it gives him. This is how and whom the manufacturers are targeting, people with that mindset.

          Maybe one day the US will join us and give you guys a range of vehicles to suit the consumer, not the UAW or manufacturers.

          Large pickups will remain the biggest sellers, but I do believe the market for a decent, refined midsizer still has a way to go.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAFO – 20 or 30,000 gross polluting trucks with subpar crash safety, wouldn’t be worth bring up to US and ‘1st world’ standards.

            But how the heck would they “unsettle” UAW pickups?

            1st they’d “unsettle” non UAW, midsize pickups, you know who they are. Many US pickups, including the Tacoma, are Hecho en Mexico too.

            But mostly they’d “unsettle” various cross overs, CUVs, ‘cubes’ and anything cheap with an ‘import’ badge, especially Korean.

            We have plenty of midsize alternatives to the 1/2 ton pickup. Probably more than enough, as far as the car makers that want to join in the US market, goes.

            So how many do you need? There’s already more midsize pickup choices than fullsize.

            What we need is more fullsize choices…

            Point is, we have plenty of 1/2 ton alternatives to the midsize pickup.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I own a now-19-year-old Ford Ranger that gets better average gas mileage than any new full-sized pickup with a gasoline engine INCLUDING Ford’s own Eco-boost models. 21 city, 27+ highway and 24 mixed. That model doesn’t even have the advantage of modern aerodynamics or cheats such as a tonneau cover. With a six-speed transmission and a newer engine I think it could do even better. The simple truth is that the OEMs tried to cheap out and ignore the smaller trucks simply because they couldn’t garner the same profit margins they achieved with full-sized models and are now realizing that they need to return to a smaller-sized truck just to stand a chance of staying in the market with fuel economy on a less-than-Class IV truck. By 2025 I think the current new round of “mid-sized” trucks will become the new “full-sized” models while new compacts will again become the “mid-sized” trucks they used to be.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    FCA at this point has nothing to lose with a product like this as long as they outsource the production to a lower cost labor market. FCA needs to minimize their costs to lower the break even point. FCA is already planning on outsourcing production of the Dart and 200 which is not a bad idea. The mistake that FCA made was using valuable resources for Alfa Romeo, but what is done is done. FCA does not have the resources to develop new products and its future is doubtful. FCA should work on improving their product quality and dealer service first. Jeep is the most valuable part of FCA and it might be better to position a smaller truck under the Jeep label. The above product looks more like a Jeep Cherokee and it would be easy to put a Cherokee grill on it. FCA needs to put themselves in a better more competitive position to become a takeover candidate.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      While the mass market appeal of this product might be limited in the US, it would easily step over the CAFE bar in it’s category. Did anyone else notice the Renegade pickup concept at the Easter Safari?

      “The mistake that FCA made was using valuable resources for Alfa Romeo, but what is done is done.”

      People were bemoaning the age of the LX platform the other day. The benefits of the Alfa investment aren’t confined to Alfa.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Does Fiatsler really want to be taken over?

      Or does Fiatsler want to merge and consolidate with another automaker while still remaining large and in charge, like when Fiat “merged” with Chrysler (which in reality was a takeover of Chrysler facilitated by the $1.3B bribe).

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Doesn’t matter what FCA wants, it might end up that is all that FCA can hope for. It is not an ideal position but it would be better than going out of business. FCA has already spent the funds on Alfa so at least use the platform on Dodge and Chrysler to recover some of the investment. If it weren’t for Jeep and Ram FCA would not have survived as long as it has. Much better to expand the brands that are profitable than to put any more funds into the brands that are failing or just hanging in there.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    This has little to do with this article, other than it’s a pickup.

    Can FCA beat this, or even Ford? If TTAC can’t put some global stuff in I will.

    Check this out, awesome. I wonder if this Aussie concept will make it to the US? It has HSV written all over it. It would be quite marketable as well, even in the US.

    This is what the Colorado should be, nicest looking pickup around, better than a Raptor, TRD has no hope.

    https://practicalmotoring.com.au/car-news/chevrolet-colorado-xtreme-and-trailblazer-premier-hint-at-future-holden-models/

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      That looks awful, it looks cheap and less capable than a crown Vic off-road. Plastic is for children’s toys, not for attempting to protect a 2 ton truck from a rock. That truck is 100% for looks and 0% actual capability, else they wouldn’t have used such awful offroad characteristics in order to “look cool”. The Raptor actually has purpose for the physical changes made for it to perform.
      That is if you consider add-ons that physically hurt actual offroad capability as “cool”. You don’t offroad with baby steps on the side, that’s the number 1 rule of off-roading. There is zero purpose for the rack in the bed. The color-coded rims are great – for your hairdresser. The small tires, wonderful for you to immediately get stuck since every off-roader before you has on average used a 35-37 inch tire. Low plastic bumper, that’s for riced up civics c’mon.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        Have looked at two Raptors , including a 6.2 version, really not that impressive. I think it as much show as the Colorado

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al From 'Murica

          From the Article:

          “But, if you look closely at the Extreme it’s not overly different from the current Colorado, and beyond the motor show bits and bobs and bright paintwork, it’s really only the front grille and bumper that have significantly changed. ”

          The Raptor gets a model specific 4WD/AWD, Locking Diffs all around (I think they still have the Torsen unit on the front), a real suspension that is again, unique to the Raptor, and all sorts of unique bits. Not really in the same class.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Big Al from Romania,
            That’s why it’s good. It’s easily viable and it looks great. As good as of better than most any mall crawler out of the US.

            I also think the front end on this concept will be the next Colorado.

            I suppose you really need those locking diffs at Lowes or Home Depot?? As an aside was I talking aesthetics?

            So far the US Chev Colorado idea’s don’t match this.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Yes, I know that. Still it was not impressive. One I saw had some mud splashed on the side, the other was pristine.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Maybe Al. I didn’t comment on it one way or another in that respect. Your little Giligan buddy Rex Ryan compared it to the Raptor and I was simply pointing out that it is not even in the same Galaxy as the Raptor when it comes to capability. I don’t care for the looks of it but that is subjective.

            I have a 2WD truck with a rear electronic locker. No, I have never had to use the locker at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or the mall. It sure as heck is nice when lowering a boat down a slippery ramp though and I can envision it being nice when I head to my fishing hole this year. I put the lockers in my old Land Cruiser to use in similar situations as well as on the trail (the truck is not equipped for these trails but it was purely recreational and as I don’t do that any more I didn’t need it).

            I have shopped the Colorado. If you just don’t want a fullsize then buy it. It seemed to be a good truck. But dollar for dollar the F150 was a better deal and my 6 foot 14 year old doesnt kick my seat as a bonus as he did in myy old midsizer.

            And RobertRyan, because people wash their trucks thay are not capable? Surely the Raptor has some bling, but underneath it is by all accounts a seriously capable rig. You want anything in the US in that league you buy a Rubicon or you build it. My 2WD truck must be a beast as it is filthy right now (and glowing green thatnks to the pollen layer on the dirt). Know what I’m going to do today though? WASH IT! My 80 series Land Cruiser was tripple locked, had the full floater rear diff, and a full Old Man Emu Suspension under it. It would get filthy on the trail and was scarred up pretty good. But it was clean by the time I took it to work on Monday. The bed of my truck is clean and unscarred because I put a liner in it. Because someone goes to the trouble of taking care of their rig though I guess it isn’t “real”.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            At least it had some Australian OME parts. No the other one, dark blue, had never been anywhere, . I know the Raptor is as slow as a snail when the going gets tough Off Road, but it is good for ” yumping” if you like that sort of thing. A real ” lifestyle vehicle” Off Road, not suitable for doing anything other than ” Yumping” . Waste of Space.
            Jeep now wishes it had some reliable vehicles Off Road, as their sales here are in the toilet

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            RobertRyan,
            I do think it’s a bit unfair to FCA/Chrysler.

            I do believe it wouldn’t take FCA much to improve their product lineup regarding the reliability issues for their vehicles.

            The problem is Jeep sells what I would call “urban” off roaders. They are capable off road, but are not enduring or have the necessary reliability to make a person feel secure when off roading in Australia.

            The Wrangler is an excellent off road vehicle, except it doesn’t have the capability (and sometimes the reliability) required here for long distance off road excursions.

            Remember many in the US would consider a 400km off road trek huge, whereas here it is quite normal to off road for over a thousand kilometres.

            Then add to that towing a camper trailer or caravan and you see the deficiencies offered by US off road vehicles. Diesel is the only answer.

            What US off roader can provide this type of off roading? Their isn’t service stations, so that rules out the Raptor or any large US pickup/SUV.

            Full size US pickups/SUVs would work in the arid to semi arid Outback regions, again, except for their endurance. Off roading in our coastal regions through rain forests, etc rules out the full size because they are just to big and have poor off road attributes, ie length, ramp over, approach and departure. Fuel again will play a role here as many of our coastal off road regions are isolated.

            Urban off roaders is becoming more common in Australia as well. City slickers who just want a long weekend away from it all.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            ” Remember many in the US would consider a 400km off road trek huge, whereas here it is quite normal to off road for over a thousand kilometres.”
            Our definition of Off Road is much more extreme than anything experienced in NA. That is why the Raptor has a niche there as a ” Lifestyle Off Road” vehicle.
            Disagree FCA has major problems in NA, not just with Jeep in Australia .Now the importers are trying to blame a poor exchange rate for the sudden drop in sales, not the many complaints about reliability.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Don’t make assumptions about how extreme off-road may be in the US; the difference isn’t in the extremity but in the necessity. The US has roads to almost every part of the country where once you get away from the coastal areas of Australia you simply don’t have all that many roads. There are other factors as well that are more centered on reliability and toughness rather than comfort and safety. To some extent we Americans no longer have any choice in the matter, as shown by the fact that automatic emergency braking is about to become mandatory, as many other nannies have become mandatory for safety totally disregarding the fact that they affect capability. As for the Raptor itself, it’s a desert toy more than a working truck and the price just emphasizes that fact.

            As for FCA, my personal experience refutes the stereotype because FCA has gone out of its way to fix issues caused by Daimler in my 08 Wrangler. The ’14 Fiat 500 I’m driving is so far proving itself no worse than most cars and better than many.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “The US has roads to almost every part of the country where once you get away from the coastal areas of Australia you simply don’t have all that many roads. There are other factors as well that are more centered on reliability and toughness rather than comfort and safety. To some extent we Americans no longer have any choice in the matter”

            Very similar choices here, but you have a vast dirt roads area that as you know does not exist in the US.. Yes we are getting Automatic braking in 2017.Comfort and Safety and extreme reliability/toughness are all major factors in vehicle choices here.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Your 400km capable truck is what we would call an expo rig. They exist here though admittedly not in the numbers they likely do in your neck of the woods. Many a US spec Land Cruiser and 4 runner sees this sort of duty. Yes, I would prefer a diesel for this sort of duty but gas is fine. People do it in jeeps too but the problem isnt reliability…the old inline 6 has anvil like reliability here…they are just too small typically to haul the gear and/or mount a tent on, but they are out there. I have a friend who had an older Ford Econoline converted to 4 wheel drive and a diesel and he drove it mostly on dirt from Canada to Mexico with a kitchen and a bed in it. I love these types of rigs but people typically use a larger vehicle than a jeep. Heck Unimogs are popular.

            And of course the Raptor is slow in anything technical. It is a full sized truck. It is called breakover angle. Any crew cab pickup will be challenged here. My buddies modded Frontier pro 4x is a beast, but it is still a crew cab pickup and the length makes it slower than an Xterra would be similarly equipped and it wants to hang up on stuff. In tight trails my Land Cruiser was slow too because it was a pig, but it was still able to get down the trail, just at a slower rate than the Rubicons. Most people don’t wheel their Raptors hard, but I know of a couple that beat the crap out of theirs. It is a capable truck even if it isnt your (or my) cup of tea, but it isnt for the rocks…it is too darn big. I wonder though if a regular cab 2.7 ecoboost powered version with an offroad oriented camper and all the Raptor stuff underneath wouldn’t make a decent expo rig.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            And Rex, extreme is relative. 1000KM requires a specific rig, but frankly you can run some very technical trails over rocks that are very extreme in a different way and require a dedicated buggy. My wife’s Hyundai can do 1000 KM on the road easily…A top fuel dragster only goes 1/4 mile between engine rebuilds. Which is the more “extreme” vehicle?

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @RR: “Have looked at two Raptors , including a 6.2 version, really not that impressive. I think it as much show as the Colorado”

          I agree. The Raptor has already proven that it’s effectively worthless as a truck and is almost strictly a plaything. I expect that Asian Colorado is a far superior truck AS a truck even with all that “plastic”.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            If you are buying anything that doesn’t have Camry or Accord badges on the trunk then there is likely an element of plaything in the purchase. Some people play on the track, some in the dirt. Nobody buys a Raptor to throw a load of bricks in the back of. Nobody buys a Miata for this purpose either but that doesn’t make it any less fun.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Oh, and a Veyron is practically worthless as a car. So what. I’d still drive it.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            “Some people play on the track, some in the dirt. Nobody buys a Raptor to throw a load of bricks in the back of. Nobody buys a Miata for this purpose either but that doesn’t make it any less fun.”

            My point it is only a Lifestyle Vehicle, for posing or running around someone’s sandbox

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Rough Riding Robert – It’s true about the Rubicon too. Power Wagon? Yep. Original owners are almost never willing to take their high-dollar toys off-road and trash on them like they’re meant to be or ‘designed’ to be.

            Do you blame them? They’re a huge investment to gamble with. Or do you really think insurance is gonna pay-up in a major off-road incident? No, owners will have to eat it, the whole thing.

            Except this is the 1st we’re hearing about your off-road ‘way of life’. Heck you’re never even said what vehicles you’ve owned or currently drive, for on or off road.

            Next you’re gonna tell us you’re a croc hunter…

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Big Al–Nice truck. Chevy S-10 had an Extreme version in the late 90s to the early 2000s but it was a lowered version for the streets.

    I don’t want to appear to be anti-FCA but they need to try something different and that something might be a true compact truck. The Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 are not selling. The first thing FCA needs to do is get the confidence of the car and truck buying public back and that starts with better quality. A 10 year/100k warranty would be a start. It would be better if FCA could make it without being a merger candidate. At the present time no one wants to merge with FCA because they would have more to bring to the table than FCA. GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan would gain little or nothing from a merger with FCA. If FCA became stronger with better products then a merger could become possible .

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “but the trip to Brazil by Ram International head Bob Hegbloom clearly signals the beginning of a product strategy.”

    That’s really reaching a bit.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Perhaps his strategy in going to South America is similar to that of former Gov. of South Carolina Mark Sanford’s strategy and has nothing to do with trucklets.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    The more I look at that Toro, the more it’s growing on me. But I think it’d make more sense as a Jeep than as a RAM.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    In answer to the headline question I say, “I certainly hope so!”

  • avatar

    I think the key things to remember with the small truck market are as follows.

    Price

    Economy

    Lifestyle

    With out a cheap entry price better then midsize fuel economy and some decent outdoor lifestyle design, any thing smaller then a Tacoma will be DOA. I think the issue is when a mini truck costs anything close to it’s big brother and when the difference in economy is small you really don’t have enough customers. But if it costs a lot less and beats the fuel economy of a bigger truck by say 20% I think you have something. Of course you need to avoid the Baja dorky look as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You’re making far too many assumptions, mopar. Yes, I do agree with price, economy and lifestyle as general terms, but not the “lifestyle” that you want to believe. If that were true, the Hyundai wouldn’t have even made it through the auto-show circuit. That so-called “decent outdoor lifestyle design” is a ridiculous argument as the shape itself is going to be mostly demanded for better economy while something approximating a five-foot bed or more will be a requirement no matter what kind of load it’s intended to carry.
      But here’s the thing; with greatly-improved aerodynamics and a reasonable engine/transmission combo it can realize a minimum of 20% improved economy over the current round of “mid-sized” trucks and possibly as good as 35% or better over full-sized trucks sans diesel. As for the price, it should top out where most mid-sized trucks run at median and well below full-sized trucks while still being able to serve the true light-duty user–the DIY homemaker, the kitbuilder, the hobbyist and yes, even the sporting type with their Jet-Skis and sport boats, canoes, hikers, etc. Even tent campers would have few issues with a true compact truck. It may be lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to mean “outdoorsy”.

      • 0 avatar

        By lifestyle design, I meant something that looks a little rugged not that it needed to look like a tacoma. Design is subjective but it seems small trucks do better when they look like trucks. We will have to see if this is true or not with the release of the new Ridgeline. The two things I heard most often from former ridgeline owners and possible buyers were fuel economy and design issues. I think with these correct now, sales should go up. To be clear I actually think the Toro with a more truck like grill would be fine design wise. And I agree design does need to evolve to meet fuel economy etc.
        On the Baja I think the biggest issue wasn’t actually the looks but the poor execution of the bed area. If Subaru had something like a midgate (like the Avalanche) I believe it would have sold a lot better. I’m OK with a small bed but the Baja was a little pointless.

        Also I put design last as I believe the other two points are of much greater concern. If you can buy a toro that will get a 26-28 mpg combined rating and sells with typical equipment levels in the 24-28,000 range it should be a winner.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Despite most people’s desire that a truck must look like a “truck”, if those trucks intend to get better fuel mileage they’re going to need to become more aerodynamic. This means they’re going to become more car-like in appearance simply to improve those aerodynamics. Even so, you’ll notice the current round of full-sized trucks are finally losing that fake big-rig nose and reverting to something more traditional to pickup trucks. But even big rigs are becoming more aerodynamically shaped and combined with improvements in the engine and now up to 18-speed automatic transmissions they’ve realized a 50% or better fuel economy improvement over their boxier predecessors.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    The Explorer Sport Track was universally lambasted for having a useless bed. How is this any different in that respect?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Why don’t you go look at a Hyundai or RAM 700 and see for yourself. The Sport Track and Subaru Baja attempted to compete with the big Chevy Avalanche and missed on the factors that made the Avalanche work–an extendible bed. Hyundai has already demonstrated that the Santa Cruz offers an extendible bed, though we don’t necessarily know the capabilities of the new Fiat/Ram models.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        Actually, what made the Avalanche “work” was that it was a big honkin full-size effing BOF truck. In fact, it was pretty much as big as a Silverado HD wasn’t it? Not as HD as the HD, but it was that big. Quite a few ended up as commercial vehicles, something that’s not going to happen as widely with something like a Baja or a mini-RAM.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          The Avalanche itself eventually died, npaladin, but due more to the fact that almost all trucks had become crew-cab-centric by the end of that time and made the external portion of the bed longer, removing the need for the inside extension; simpler and cheaper, really. The smaller rigs didn’t even offer much, if anything, in the way of the extendible bed.

          As for the Honda Ridgeline, despite all the complaints from “truck people” they were remarkably popular with “car people” who simply didn’t want the size or the touted capabilities of full-sized pickups. Something like that “mini-RAM above is likely to be far more popular than you think. Though not by “truck people.”

  • avatar
    HCM

    “, while FCA’s Mexico factory produces the Fiat Fullback pickup (based on the Mitsubishi L200).”

    I’m pretty sure FCA does not build the Fullback in Mexico. It’s built by Mitsubishi in Thailand.


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