Chrysler believes there is still a market for small pickup trucks

Article by Christian Andrei, on July 9, 2012

Don’t grieve for the demise of the mid-size pickup truck. The Ford Ranger and Dodge/Ram Dakota may be gone but Chrysler is believed to be developing one. In the last two years, the mid-size pickup truck hasn’t had a consistently strong run. For many years, the Ram Dakota (formerly known as the Dodge Dakota) and Ford Ranger had been offered but they had to be discontinued eventually.

General Motors revealed that its new global Colorado pickup will be produced and offered in the U.S. Even when both models have stopped production last year, sales of the six best-selling mid-size pickups (Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Ram Dakota, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon) in 2011 had grown by slightly more than 15% in 2011. But even with this increase in sales, the entire mid-size pickup market still can’t compare with the full-size pickups.

Last year, the combined sales of the top six mid-size trucks totaled 286,009 units. So far in 2012, they have sold 142,537 units. For the same 18-month period, Ford sold 886,058 units of the F-Series pickup. Nevertheless, Chrysler still wants to re-enter the mid-size pickup segment.

According to Joe Veltri, Chrysler’s VP of product planning, the company’s market research indicates that young men want the conveniences offered by the pickup truck but without the high prices and fuel consumption of the full-size pickups. And as the baby boomers get older, they’d likely want to downsize their pickups.

The younger consumer would want a mid-size pickup truck as a gateway vehicle because a truck owner who is getting older and richer would probably decide to trade in the mid-size pickup for a larger one. It’s possible that this Chrysler pickup would bear the Ram badge but instead of a body-on-frame architecture, it will have a unibody.

Chrysler isn’t new to testing the market. In 2002, Chrysler introduced the M80 concept and in 2006, it presented the Rampage. But lately, Chrysler hasn’t been that adventurous; it only made a brief mention in its 2009 five-year plan. This truck may start production in the fall of 2013 and take a “lifestyle truck” approach, with increasing focus on comforts, style and design. A diesel engine is also possible. [source: freep]

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