Could a Ram 1500 Dakota fill in for a midsize pickup? (Updated)

Stellantis has a trademark on the name “Dakota,” and working on a replacement for the Ram 1200 (Mitsubishi L1200). Compact and midsize trucks are a hot market in the United States now, with the Tacoma, Ranger, Colorado, and Gladiator all fighting it out—but the Gladiator isn’t a practical high-volume truck for Ram.

Making a Ram Dakota

Could the company create a transitional truck while it waits for its engineers to finish a true midsize pickup? The downside is it would be expensive to engineer and tool for it, and it might fail in the market; but on the upside, it could be a recession-fighter, if pricey pickups suddenly became unattainable for most buyers. There are more positives, but let’s talk about the structure first.

This Ram Dakota would have a six-foot-four bed, “regular” cab, and a single row of seats. it could be based on either be the “DS” Ram Classic or the newer “DT,” depending on build costs when stripped down to basics. The  goal would be to use existing parts, but to cut the price. It would also have a suspension drop, though this would reduce the payload, to be more manageable and more garageable. The truck shown in the illustration above, subjected to an amateur shrinking, would be too high up in the air for even a temporary Dakota.

The name might be a handy way to re-introduce Dakota, before the real, brand new, ground-up truck comes in. This would only be a minor problem if the idea took off—the smallest big truck would be a new spin on Chrysler’s historic approach of making the biggest small car or truck.

Who would buy this monster? There are a few possible markets, including people who need or want a truck but who don’t have the space for a Ram 1500. This could be people with short driveways, short garages, and so on. There’s also a market of people who aren’t six feet tall, and who find it hard to load the bed of the current Ram, F-150, and Silverado. Drop the body (because you wouldn’t need Ram 1500 payloads), and you would have a vehicle that’s easier to get into and out of, and easier to load.

The Ram 1500’s smallest length is 233 inches, 13 inches longer than a 1979 Dodge Ram D-150 with an eight foot bed; the Gladiator is 218 inches long. Not everyone needs two rows of seats or an eight foot bed.

It’s an unlikely scenario, but sometimes adapting a mainstream vehicle into a niche can yield a surprising number of additional sales.

Idea: “Mopar Don”

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