Perhaps there is none? Future of the Dodge Dakota

Last year, social media was filled with the news that the Dodge Dakota project had been cancelled. Less visible at the time was the note that this only applied to a Dodge version of the Jeep Gladiator—which was perhaps not a superb idea to begin with.

The Dakota is generally remembered as a midsize pickup with a normally sized bed, two or four doors, and two rows of seats (as with the 2008 Dakota shown above—the rear doors are the “hidden” style with latches that only appear when the front doors are opened). The Gladiator, though, is rather limited in its dimensions by the factory where it’s made. Since the Gladiator is also specifically meant as an off-road vehicle first and foremost, it has many compromises that would make a Dodge version less than ideal.

Making the Dakota version in a different plant, after altering the frame and chassis design for lighter weight and greater length, seems unlikely to produce the most competitive vehicle. It’s no surprise, really, that FCA US dropped their trademark registration on October 15, 2021. (They still have a trademark for “exterior decorative trim,” that is, nameplates; this was granted on September 15, 2020.)

1989 dodge dakota shelby
1989 Dodge Dakota Shelby

Stellantis is still moving towards a new global pickup to replace the Mitsubishi L200. There are numerous questions about what this vehicle will be like, not to mention who is leading its development and whether it will be sold globally as a Ram, Fiat, Peugeot… or all three. FCA US does not have a US trademark on “Ram 1200;” though it also doesn’t have a trademark on “Ram 1500,” though, so that doesn’t mean much. (Ram itself is trademarked, as are several Ram 1500 special editions.)

One recent story noted that the new pickup would be unibody or perhaps body-on-frame, with a long bed or perhaps a short one, developed for use in the US or maybe not, and midsized if not compact—so there is some uncertainty. It is possible that the Dakota name might not return, even if the truck does; the Dakota name is used by quite a few other companies already (with trademarks for tools and wiring, plumbing supplies, boats and patches, and so on), not to mention a tribe and First Nations band government.

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