Chrysler considering a unibody small pickup positioned below the Dakota

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 29, 2010

Chrysler is considering a unibody small pickup to be slotted below the Dakota, which will end its production in 2011. Joe Veltri, Chrysler Group vice president of product planning, said that the company wants something that will separate itself from the full-sized truck further, in terms of the capability, price and size.

Veltri said that the Ram brand has "room to expand into a compact-truck segment." In an interview conducted at the National Truck Equipment Association's Work Truck Show in St. Louis, Veltri had declined to give a time frame for the truck.

Last Nov. 4, during a eight-hour-plus session with large dealership groups, banks, analysts and the media, Chrysler talked about plans to build a mid-sized truck on a unibody platform.

Chrysler says now that those plans had been junked. In the 1980s, Veltri said that the compact-pickup segment sold about 1.5 million units each year -- more than full-sized pickups.

Last year, compact-pickup sales fell 31% compared with 2008 to 270,348. He said that the problem started when carmakers kept on making these trucks bigger.

There came a time when potential buyers saw that they can get a Ram full-sized truck for just a little bit more. He described the current Dakota, as being large and having the capability to tow 7,000 pounds, as well as coming with a V8 and a V6.

He referred to it as a mini full-sized truck. Veltri said that everyone got the formula wrong. He said that most buyers in the market want a pickup and better fuel economy but don't need the capability to tow 7,000 pounds.

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