Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' plan for the Ram brand to re-enter the midsize pickup market returns the company to the segment it invented in the mid-1980s.
At Friday's investor presentation in Italy, Ram brand head Mike Manley revealed plans for the new truck to debut in 2022. There will also be a Fiat-badged version of the truck, presumably to replace the current Mitsubishi-derived Fiat Fullback, which is not offered in the United States.
In 1987, Dodge debuted the Dakota, which was slightly larger than compact trucks from General Motors and Ford, as well as imported trucks from Toyota, Nissan, Mazda and Mitsubishi.
The Dakota inherited the Ram's big-rig styling in the mid-1990s and sold well, usually racking up sales in the 150,000 range most years in the U.S. After the third generation of the truck got old and sales began to stall, it was killed in 2011.
General Motors revived the midsize truck segment in 2015 with the second generation of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Since launch, GM has sold nearly 500,000 units of the Colorado/Canyon in the U.S. The midsize truck segment is up nearly 18 percent this year, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
The new midsize Ram will face stiff competition not only from the GM twins, but also from the reborn Ford Ranger, which will also be a midsize truck. It is due to arrive next year.
It's not clear if FCA's new truck will revive the Dakota nameplate, but it will likely put greater pressure on Nissan and Toyota to update the aging Frontier and Tacoma pickups.
Several of the original Dakota models, such as the convertible and the high-performance Shelby and R/T versions (both of which offered a V-8 engine and plenty of tire-shredding performance), have become prized collector's items.
FCA plans to build the new midsize truck at its Saltillo, Mexico, plant.