DETROIT -- Chrysler's Ram brand plans to offer a light-duty pickup on a redesigned minivan platform beginning in 2013, according to a published report.
The truck is expected to be aimed at pickup buyers who want better fuel economy than a full-sized pickup can provide, and who don't need a pickup's toughness and hauling capability. The vehicle will be targeted at the Honda Ridgeline pickup.
At a meeting with suppliers last week, the automaker said the pickup will be developed on its front-drive minivan platform, according to a report on the Toronto Star's Web site, torontostar.com.
It is unclear whether all-wheel drive will be standard.
The truck was identified as the TR Ram Life Style Truck, according to the report. The story cited supplier sources and AutomotiveCompass, a research firm.
The pickup is expected to have an annual production volume of about 15,000 to 20,000 units. Honda sold 16,142 Ridgelines last year, a 2 percent drop from the previous year.
The pickup will be assembled at Chrysler's Windsor, Ontario, minivan assembly plant. The plant assembles the Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan and the Volkswagen Routan.
The vehicle "is an insurance policy that the plant will continue on three shifts at full capacity," Doug Shepard, editor of AutomotiveCompass' weekly report, which tracks current and future global auto production, was quoted as saying in the Star report.
The Dodge and Chrysler minivans are expected to be redesigned around 2014. It is not clear if the minivans or the pickup based on the redesigned minivan platform will go on sale first.
Major suppliers were briefed last week in Chrysler's design dome, located at its headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., according to the Star.
Chrysler revealed its long-term vehicle plans at a media presentation in November 2009, a few months after Fiat took control of the company. A unibody pickup was mentioned as a vehicle that was under consideration.
"We don't have anything to announce about a mid-sized truck," said Chrysler spokesman Rick Deneau in a telephone interview.
"I think the last thing you heard us say publicly is that we are investigating it. We really have nothing more to say at this point."