Desperately Seeking Dakota: Fiat Chrysler Dealer Council Hot for a Midsize
File this tidbit under the “no shit” banner. Fiat Chrysler has been without a mainstream midsize pickup since the beginning of the previous decade, and the automaker’s dealer council is sick of waiting.
A our own Tim Cain told you recently, 2019 brought the public’s growing desire for midsize pickups into stark clarity. The segment’s hot and, with the addition of the Ford Ranger, growing. FCA dealers want a slice of that action.
While Jeep got into the game in 2019, the Gladiator’s loftier price point and unique off-road persona sets it apart from other midsize offerings.
Phil Bivens, chairman of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles National Dealer Council, told Automotive News recently that a midsize Ram truck remains the largest white space in need of filling at FCA.
“I haven’t seen anything in the product portfolio that suggests that it might be coming, but just like with heavy duty, not everyone wants a big truck like that,” he said. “Not everyone needs that full truck. Then you talk about the 1500, those are still big rigs. With city driving and things, I would love a midsize truck. Would be crazy not to want it.”
Bivens added, “I’ve got a Chevrolet store, and I’ll tell you what — the Colorado has just been wildly successful. Obviously, you can see what the Toyota Tacoma has been doing.”
Despite a new challenger entering in the midsize space, the Tacoma eked out yet another sales increase in 2019. Toyota sells as many Tacomas as it can build on both sides of the Rio Grande.
Midsize pickup market share rose to a 13-year high last year, and, while Ram carried itself to new heights in 2019 on the combined strength of the new 1500 and held-over 1500 Classic, a latter-day Dakota would would further help the automaker battle its rivals. Ram can’t keep the previous-gen full-size in production forever.
General Motors has Colorado and GMC Canyon refreshes inbound for 2021, with money already pledged for a full revamp in due time. The ancient Nissan Frontier gained a new powertrain for 2020, ahead of a long-overdue redesign expected later this year.
Last March, FCA CEO Mike Manley called the lack of midsize pickup “a clear hole in our portfolio,” adding that the automaker is “focused on it.” He revisited the issue late last year, claiming the pending merger with France’s PSA Group offers a “fabulous opportunity” for a new midsizer. Such a vehicle wouldn’t arrive overnight, however, leaving Ram dealers to play the waiting game.
It’s a game they’re used to playing.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
Jeff S on Feb 13, 2020
I wouldn't mind a true compact pickup with a small extended cab even if it were based on a front wheel drive suv or compact car. Keep it simple with just air and a radio without the key fob. Make it with a base 4 cylinder no turbos and a 5 or 6 speed manual and a geared automatic as an option (no cvts or double clutches). Keep it simple and make it with a plastic floor (no thin carpeting). Price it at 15k. I would settle for a Chinese made one that is basically assembled in North America.
Jeff S on Feb 14, 2020
Really don't want or need a full size pickup even for free. Much rather have a newer compact pickup without a crew cab and have a bed that is more than 4 feet long. I doubt American manufacturers are interested in making anything priced less than 30k and that is not at least midsize. That is why I mentioned the Chinese they might be willing to make a true compact truck even if it means sending kits to the US to be assembled. At 15k or even less than 20k I bet there would be enough people interested in buying one especially if it were not full of electronic nannies and if it were mechanically simple. Since I have other vehicles I would not need a larger one but I do need the open bed and easy access to the bed and easy to park and drive. Most of today's full size trucks have the maneuverability of a 72 Cadillac or Lincoln.
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