The Dakota name has been gone for a decade. Maybe it's time to come back.
Maybe the project to revive the Dakota or whatever Ram calls its future midsized truck isn't dead after all. An insider source now tells Automotive News that the work is still happening to give the brand a smaller pickup.
The Ram Dakota went away after the 2011 model year. Rumors were already swirling in 2012 about a return for the nameplate. Although, it never happened.
Gallery: New 2008 Dodge Dakota Revealed
Instead of introducing a new Dakota, FCA (now Stellantis) seemed to test the waters of returning to the midsized truck segment by launching the Jeep Gladiator for the 2020 model year. In its first full year of sales, the vehicle moved 77,542 units.
Ram dealers are reportedly clamoring for a midsized truck to sell that would slot below the 1500. The desire is understandable when rivals are rapidly expanding their pickup lineups. Ford is a notable example because it's about to have a full range with the compact Maverick, midsized Ranger, the venerable F-150, and brawny Super Duty. Plus, there are new contenders like the upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz unibody pickup.
Ram's 2018 product plan makes mention of a new midsized truck arriving by 2022. If the pickup is really coming within that timeframe, then the automaker is doing a stellar job of keeping it under wraps. There are no spy shots of the vehicle, and the rumors even debate the model's existence.
Outside the US, Ram already has smaller trucks in its lineup. For example, the Ram 700 is available in Mexico and South America as a largely rebadged version of the Fiat Strada. Buyers can get the little truck as a two- or four-door. These pickups are front-wheel drive and use small-displacement engines. This is enough for hauling 1,653 pounds (750 kilograms) of payload and towing up to 882 pounds (400 kilograms).