By on May 6, 2019

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Fiat Chrysler remains adamant that its new Jeep Gladiator won’t be its only midsize pickup truck, but consumers had best hunker down for a wait. While the company announced the development of a conventional midsizer in last year’s five-year product plan, the new offering won’t appear until the end of that window.

Between now and 2022, CEO Mike Manley and the team at Ram must find a way to offer a midsize pickup at a price point designed to woo Colorado, Ranger, and Tacoma intenders. First on the to-do list is finding a platform.

As reported by Automotive News, Manley said a midsize truck — referred to as a “metric ton” truck in the company’s product plans — is “a big part of the portfolio and growth we want to achieve.”

The plan is to chase a sticker price safely in the comfort range of midsize buyers, with Manley mentioning that the Gladiator is an entirely different beast targeting a different type of buyer. A base Gladiator Sport starts at a tick over $35k.

“Being able to find a cost-effective platform in a region where we can build it with low cost and it still being applicable in the market is what they’re struggling with at the moment,” Manley said during last week’s earnings call. “I want that problem solved, frankly, because it’s a clear hole in our portfolio. It will not be filled by Gladiator because Gladiator is a very, very different mission. Trust me, they’re focused on it. We need to get it fixed soon.”

Sourcing a platform is Job One, but Job Two is finding somewhere to build the truck. A report from September suggested the pickup would call Toledo, Ohio home, rolling out of the same complex as the Gladiator. However, the original product plan, plus Manley’s recent comments, point in the opposite direction of the Gladiator’s lengthened Wrangler Unlimited frame — and Ohio in general.

The midsize Ram was expected to take up space vacated by the next-generation Ram Heavy Duty line at FCA’s Saltillo, Mexico assembly plant, though February’s U.S. plant investments complicated matters. According to FCA, the Ram HD will now continue production in Saltillo, with the company’s Warren Truck plant set aside for Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer assembly.

As buyers with fond memories of the Dodge Dakota await the upcoming pickup, Ram’s 1500 Classic continues in service as a lower-priced alternative to the brand’s new 1500 line. Earlier this year, the automaker said Classic production is being “extended to meet market demand.”

[Image: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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26 Comments on “Thinking Caps On: Before Buyers Get Their Hands on It, Ram’s Midsize Pickup First Needs a Platform...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Toro

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    I cannot believe this product is still in a review stage. I would have expected prototypes and supplier pipelines to already be in motion. Come to think of it, we have seen ZERO spy shots of refreshed/all new FCA products. Charger/Challenger freshening? Mid cycle updates for Pacifica? Grand Cherokee offshoots or replacement?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      My guess is that the new CEO is still trying to overhaul some of his predecessor’s plans to make all Fiats into Fiat 500s when the brand already has several viable platforms that could be used for other projects, including smaller trucks. There is a surprising amount of demand, for instance, to bring the Fiat Panda into the States to replace the 500X and 500L. There’s also a demand, albeit a smaller one, for a Fiat Strada-based compact pickup, which is already in production in South America and, with a relatively minor shift of assembly location, could be made available to US as well as international customers.

      Note also that the new CEO isn’t as hell-bent on partnering with another OEM unless there is true advantage for FCA in the deal. I would also not be too surprised if he’s not working on excising some ‘abusive’ franchise holders in a way that would avoid the class-action lawsuit that forced FCA to re-license many of those franchise holders in ’09-’11.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Not a lot of RWD platform choices.
    Unibody: Charger, Grand Cherokee
    Frame: Wrangler, Ram

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Simple: Tweek the LX platform for unibody pickup duty. With cancellation of the 300, Brampton has the capacity.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      RAM Ridgeline might be not a bad idea, especially if GM’s patents for Avalanche have expired, and it can be made reconfigurable. Honda’s Ridgeline starts just a whisker under $30k. Not sure if this is enough to compete.

  • avatar
    kkop

    Prediction: the new ‘Dakota’ will be the first fully electric, or true hybrid FCA truck in 2022

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It needs to piggyback/share the new Ram 1500 platform.

    And are they insane? Where’s their fullsize SUV? All should be on the same platform, including a BOF Durango. All should have a V8 option too, even if not Hemis.

    This should be FCA’s main focus. Jeeps and Hellcats are awesome, but not everyone’s into them.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      The Tacoma will remain the best-selling midsizer, as it has been for decades past.

      There was a reason why Ford, GM and RAM capitulated and each folded up their midsize tent: They couldn’t match Tacoma sales, clearly a better, long-lasting product that real-world buyers actually wanted to pay real money for.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        “There was a reason why Ford, GM and RAM capitulated and each folded up their midsize tent: They couldn’t match Tacoma sales,…”
        — Ford believed the mid-sized market was effectively dead and that is why they chose to abandon it. Even Nissan and Toyota were surviving–if you want to call it that–on six- to eight-year-old platforms and the overall market was seeing a slowdown, with none of them realizing that it was the older platforms that were causing the slowdown. With GM jumping back in and Toyota finally doing a proper refresh, the mid-sized market picked up again and held steady, forcing Ford to ‘rush’ their global model back in.

        On the other hand, Ford has already stated they will re-introduce a true ‘compact’ pickup somewhere around ’23.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Vulpine, “on six- to eight-year-old platforms”

          If an automaker doesn’t have competition, they are NOT going to put the BIG BUCKS in updating or refreshing that specific product line.

          So I am all about choice, the more the merrier. I say to ALL automakers, “Bring it on, provide some competition, let the market shake itself out!”

          The buyers will decide. Tacoma remained upright. Ford, GM, and RAM midsizers croaked.

          Now they, the D3, are trying once again to displace Tacoma, and that’s a good thing because it will FORCE Toyota to upgrade, update and refine the future Tacoma.

          The buyers will decide.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @HDC: GM may have been first out of the three, but they were also first back and with a significantly better truck. Nissan’s still on their ’04 platform and Toyota is only marginally better despite their most recent update. I’m no fan of running a 6-speed tranny and a split-cycle engine when the one can’t take advantage of the engine’s torque and the other sacrifices that torque in the name of economy. When it comes to ride and performance, I’m very happy with my Colorado but I am not in the least happy with the way they cluttered up the floor of the extended cab with a permanent plinth for the part-time seating.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Vulpine, my best friend pretty much said the same thing after he retired his ’93 S-10 recently.

            The new GM midsizers ARE impressive! Rear Disc brakes, for starters! The V6 is no slouch and the automatic tranny is smoother than before.

            I’m trying to steer my BF toward a Tundra 5.7L and he wants to, but his wife favors the 2019 Silverado 4dr 4×4 LT/RST/LTZ in Silver Ice.

            While a midsize would probably meet all his needs and then some, this being the last vehicle he’ll purchase in his lifetime, he’s willing to go fullsize, half-ton. Doesn’t care about the engine size as long as it comes with Cruise Control, for loooooooong-distance driving cross-country.

            Tacoma is very popular in this area, as they are in most places across the US of A, but that Alzheimer Atkinson turns a lot of people off.

            Then again, so does the auto start/stop of the Silverado.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        OMG, enough with this crap. It isnt any more true now than the first 87 times you’ve said it.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “All should have a V8 option too, even if not Hemis.”

      — Why? At over 300 horses, I’m quite happy with a V6. It can certainly get out of its own way and pretty much anybody else’s.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        That’s why V8s are “optional”. Not everyone is YOU. Great you haul a load of tables to the Annual Church Picnic, the rest of the time, maybe some mulch and whatnot?

        Awesome, but some owners use most or all of a midsize truck’s approx 12K lbs GCWR and weigh close to 5K, just with passengers and gear. If they frequently gotta have the gas pedal to the floor, you betcha they’re cursing, wishing they had a V8, even a small one.

        At that point, they would benefit from better fuel economy with a V8, with virtually no penalty any other time.

        In case you don’t know, V8 midsize pickups/SUVs are highly coveted.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          You know, DM, you really need to learn when to stop with the snark; it only shows how juvenile you are. You were almost fine until the, “Annual Church Picnic.”

          But no, not all, not even most, use the full capabilities of their oversized, overpowered Road Whales™. Some few make part-time use if they have a 10000#-plus travel trailer and even fewer, almost all professionals, make use of the 20,000#-plus capabilities of the ¾-ton and 1-ton trucks. Those few need the horses but they should be reserved for those who actually use the power for what it was made. It wasn’t all that long ago that 350 horses out of anything smaller than a V8 was considered impossible; now V6s are doing it regularly and even some I-4s have that capability. The V8 is little more than a status symbol any more.

          I haven’t owned a V8 since ’92 and that V8 had fewer horses than the ’96 V6 Camaro I bought new in ’96. What’s more, the people who saw me driving that Camaro swore it had to have a V8 under the hood because it consistently left their V8s in the dust–factory stock. Honestly, I’m still getting used to the power my my Colorado’s V6. And it’s certainly strong enough to pull any travel trailer my wife and I will ever want.

          “In case you don’t know, V8 midsize pickups/SUVs are highly coveted.”
          — Coveted, but not available. Except, maybe, in older models where they don’t put out any more horses–factory stock–than the modern V6.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            If only everyone bought only what they needed and not what they wanted. Mitsubishi Mirage would be the best selling car and everyone would live sad, dull lives.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            @Vulpine,

            If the last V8 you owned had less power than a 1996 3800 V6, then I respectfully submit that you should experience a modern V8 before you denigrate them as status symbols only.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Vulpine – An old-school V8 with just 200 HP can easily out-pull, out-tow, out-do a modern 300 HP V6 or I4 turbo engine. There’s a lot more to this than you’ll ever understand simply comparing engine (peak) specs.

            There simply hasn’t been a better gas engine invented yet, all things considered, than the V8. Anyone with a cheap stripper, V8 optioned pickup wouldn’t call a V8 “status”. It’s just the right tool for the job.

            Yeah no doubt there aren’t any recent “midsize” V8 pickups or SUVs, but they did happen. It was just a natural progression as midsizers got much heavier with dramatically increased payload/towing. Call it political “correctness” brought on by folks that don’t know any better.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “The V8 is little more than a status symbol any more.”

            Dakotas and V8s are like peanut butter and jelly. Besides, I don’t think offering a “status symbol” engine on a new mid-size truck would be a bad thing. The Ram is going to need a USP against some stiff competition.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @jack4x: 302c.i.d. Windsor, rated at 175 horses, albeit good torque that allowed the car to pull a 5000# travel trailer. Replaced that with a 351c.i.d. Windsor that upped the horses significantly but methodically destroyed every attached accessory on the block, from water pumps to AC compressors to power steering pumps. Engine never let go but couldn’t keep anything mounted to it for more than a few months. At its best, it might have tied the V6 Camaro on the strip but even that was questionable.

            Sure, I know the modern V8 is strong but as I said, it’s simply not needed by anyone who isn’t a professional hauler.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Yeah, right. I used to think it was a niche within a niche, but the proliferation of signs on front lawns in my subdivision “Wanted V8 midsize pickup” have convinced me you’re correct.


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