Re-Release of the Dakota to the Ram lineup.
It's hard to believe that it has been 7 years since we had a Dakota among us, but it has. Sure the last generation is something that we would love to forget, but the life of the Dakota was a long one that did keep us going for a good time.
The Dakota started life back in 1986 as a step up from the Mitsubishi sourced Ram 50. Sure mini-trucks were all the rage after the gas crisis, but it was now the late 80's and those times were over with and Dodge needed to step up its game. With the likes of the S-10, Ranger and King Cab it seemed that Dodge was missing out on a good thing and finally pulled the gun on the mid-size truck market. With little to no success with the Ram 50 and a depressing attempt at the CUT market with the Rampage, it seemed that Dodge needed to step up its game when it came to the mid-size market. But with Ford, GM, Toyota and Nissan out front, it seemed like it was going to be hard battle. But like Dodge always does, it decided to give it it's all and go for broke with a new name and truck. As the Dakota was released for model year 87 it seemed like it may become the dud of the market, as its looks appealed to more of the grandfather in all of us. But that could have been its saving grace on its next chapter.
With the likes of Carroll Shelby and Lee Iacocca behind the helm it just seemed inevitable that Dodge would really take the market by the horns and it did. It did this with the release of the Dodge Dakota Sport Convertible and Shelby Dakota in 89. Sure the original truck wasn't the best looking thing around, but it did help launch the Dakota in stardom. But this was only the start of something good as the Dakota soon became the truck to beat in the marketplace. Over the next decade Dodge made a few changes to the Dakota which really helped make the little truck a star. Sure nothing was as great as the original Shelby model, but the Dakota was the sport truck to beat by the end of the century with the V8 R/T version beating anything in sight. And with Toyota and Nissan losing ground in the mid-size market thanks to the potent V8 the Dakota was sure to be the one truck to stop.
This seemed like the case, but that was all about to change thanks to two simple things. The purchase of Chrysler from Daimler and a horrific transformation. With the purchase from Daimler came an end to the great idea of slamming a Viper V10 under the hood of the Dakota, which would have put the Sidewinder into production. But the worst change came when Dodge redesigned the truck into what would become its last model. And yes we did rate the Dakota back then, and we were not a fan as we called the design that of a 1950's Plymouth Fury as it seemed to have tail fins. And as this seemed to bring down the model a quick refresh didn't seem enough to save it. Too bad they didn't adopt the looks of the Mitsubishi Raider at the time as it was better dressed.
But know it seems like Dodge or Ram as it's called now, is looking to bring back this nameplate, or at least the idea of this nameplate. This does seem rather humorous to us as we have been telling FCA to do this for the past 4 years. Guess we need to yell a bit louder and push our proper FCA product line a bit more. Sure the mid-size market is heating up lately and it seems that everyone should get back into it, we do think that FCA should tread carefully here. Along with this they should build upon the success of their other product lines to help bring Ram a full line of pickups. We are talking about FCA using the Ram 750/Fiat Strada and Fiat Toro product lines to help build the perfect lineup for the Ram line.
Yes Ram does have other products at their disposal from around the world and really they should be using them. As in Mexico you can purchase a Fiat Strada based Ram 750 compact truck to help you haul around your city cargo. Seems rather cool and with the rise of electric delivery vehicles, Ram could utilize this marketplace to push the Ram 750 into the American marketplace as a personal delivery vehicle for those larger loads. Add to this the cool factor of the micro-truck and you have the makings of a perfect city run-about and remember that this is how Ram started in the small truck market as well.
But one thing that FCA has totally forgotten about is the fact that they do have their own truck within their home stable. Yes we are talking about the Fiat Toro and no this is not a real truck. It fits into the same segment as the Honda Ridgeline and soon to be Hyundai Santa-Fe truck. Sure CUT's are not the biggest of the truck markets, but neither was the mid-size market back in the 80's. And as we have come to find in history its that Chrysler is great at picking a new niche and exploiting it to the full potential. Remember the Caravan and K-Car. Sure they weren't the best in the market, but they did help built their markets and with that they still hold onto the minivan marketplace. They did this again with the Viper, PT Cruiser, Prowler and Pacifica. Sure they all left us a bit too early, but they did help bring out a massive desire for those markets and for Chrysler products themselves.
So what we are really saying is that Ram shouldn't just go after the mid-size market again, they should carve out a complete niche within the truck market and go after all of it. Because if they don't, then Ford, GM or Nissan are going to even if you don't believe that there is enough demand for CUT's or micro trucks. But remember nobody thought the Ford Ranchero was a good idea either and they held that market up until Ford pulled the plug on production in Australia.
We hope that FCA is listening to us as we have been following the auto industry for years and have seen how you have gone from great to crap. Quality isn't the only thing killing FCA in the marketplace, its the fact that they don't have an idea about how to utilize their own product lines for the greater good of each division. And in this place we are talking about using the new Jeep Scrambler, Fiat Strada and Fiat Toro platforms to help expand your truck division. Sure the world market is becoming a harder place to work within thanks to new tariffs, but this could also help you with your expansion as well. And remember FCA, we want you to succeed, so listen to us for once.
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