Patrick Rall's picture

Dodge Dakota nears the end, no replacement coming

We have known for some time now that the midsized pickup formerly known as the Dodge Dakota (now a part of the Ram brand) would come to an end this year and reports are indicating that the Dakota will see its production end this month - with a questionable future for the smaller of the Ram brand pickups.

Since Chrysler announced that the current incarnation of the Dodge Dakota would come to an end, it has been assumed and implied that there would be a new version – whether it carried the Dakota name or not. I had a chance to speak with Ram Truck brand CEO Fred Diaz at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show and while Mr. Diaz couldn’t offer any real information on the next generation of the small pickup, he eluded to what we could expect from the next generation of the small Ram pickup. Sources within Chrysler have even gone so far as to say that a concept was built – much smaller than the current Dakota and riding on a unibody platform that would offer far better fuel economy than the current Ram brand lineup but according to Automotive News, it could be a while before we see a new pickup from the Ram Truck brand.

The source informed AN that “discussions for a possible replacement for the mid-sized pickup (read: new Ram Dakota) have been shelved”. This means that we aren’t likely to see a new Dakota any time soon and with Ford putting an end to the Ranger and General Motors considering the future of their Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups – is the era of the compact pickups coming to an end?

The Ram brand has introduced new low priced models like the Tradesman and Express to satisfy the needs of entry level truck buyers – many of which may have first considered the likes of the Dakota. However, with the fuel saving technology applied to the Ram over the past few years and the upcoming 3.6L Pentastar V6 in the full sized truck lineup, the 2012 Ram pickup could be less expensive, more powerful and more efficient than the outgoing Dakota. Ford has made a similar move in offering more lower priced and fuel friendly F150 models to attract young/new buyers rather than the Ranger so perhaps the Chrysler Group plans to sit on the future of the Dakota lineup until the competition shows their midsized pickup hand.

Source: Automotive News

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Marchionne could leave Chrysler position in 2015/2016
Chrysler leads in growth for July 2011 lead by Jeep
Audi settles dispute with rapper Eminem over A6 commercial
Chrysler’s SRT brand could offer supercharged 2013 models

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This would be the perfect time to take the Dakota platform and adapt it to The Jeep Gladiator. It is the right size to offer off road enthusist to be able to carry EVERYTING they need for extended offroad back country trips. This would be better than than goofy little trailer that Jeep offers. Chrysler should take the Jeep unlimited and mount it on this platform and call it the Unlimited Gladiator. Give it the Penstar V6 or a HO diesel. They would have a hit, some one who has chrysler and Jeeps ear should at least run it past them, it would give them some return on the investment in the tooling and factory and save jobs.