Ram Execs Sidestep the Obvious: A Midsize Dakota Is Definitely Coming
Obfuscation-noun ob•fus•cate \ ˈäb-fə-ˌskāt ; äb-ˈfə-ˌskāt, əb- \ : the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible. As far as we can tell, the executives running the Ram truck division of Stellantis are confused beyond belief. That, or are playing a game of obfuscation. We’re not into big words, but that’s what appears to be happening at Ram headquarters in Auburn Hills.
Last week Ram CEO Mike Kovel said he may show dealers a midsize concept ‘to gauge interest.” Back in 2019, former Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley said that Ram was assessing a “metric ton midsize truck solution.” This obfuscation makes total sense if you’re unaware of the truck market in the last 10 years. That’s not a stellar endorsement for the CEO of Ram.
Since 2017, Toyota has sold over 200,000 Tacoma midsize pickups every year. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, it almost hit 250,000. Each year. With the exception of last year due to supply chain issues, Ford sold 100,000 or close to it every year since the Ranger midsize pickup returned in 2019. Last year it only saw sales of 41,801.
Since 2016, the combined Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon sold over 130,000 trucks each year except for 2021, when it dropped to 100,000. And the Nissan Frontier midsize truck has seen yearly sales of around 75,000 since 2005. And yet, Ram keeps dancing around whether it will or won’t get into the midsize segment. Despite all of these sales figures, for Ram, it’s a conundrum wrapped in an enigma.
There was a time when it wasn’t so difficult for Ram to read the segments where they needed to be. The Ram Dakota midsize had a great run before getting the ax in 2011. By then, it looked like Ram kind of lost interest in the truck.
Its 2005 redesign saw a facelift in 2008, but not much else had changed in seven years. Ram threw in the towel while GM was developing the all-new Colorado and Canyon. So while GM saw an opportunity, Ram begged off.
“We’ve always said we know that on a global basis, probably the biggest area, the biggest white space opportunity for our brand to grow, has been the midsize pickup,” Koval told Automotive News. “We’re looking at it, believe me, I am. We’ll see, but I am thinking about bringing it and giving our dealers a sneak peek.” Looking real hard, are ya Mike?
Possibly Ram’s reluctance has centered around Jeep’s Gladiator. Then FCA might have considered it to be the corporation’s midsize truck. So it waited to see how it did. It took some time but it has clearly shown itself to be a smart move on Jeep’s part. Production constricted 2021 saw 90,000 sold.
The obfuscation continues with Stellantis National Dealer Council chairman Randy Dye. He told Automotive News that “it makes sense for Ram to rejoin the segment, but it will need to make sure the quality is equal to the standard that Ram has set with its full-size trucks.” As if Ram would consider a low-quality product?
Do car manufacturers even do that? Is there even debate among company heads about if a new product should be of excellent quality or just low quality? He also said it would need to “keep the brand identity.” Again, would manufacturers consider making a product that looked like it came from the competition?
We know that automakers have strict rules about revealing future products. But this midsize Ram dance is getting tiring. Show the world, not just dealers, your new midsize Ram, and then start cranking them out.