By Patrick Rall
We’ve got some bad news for those Dodge lovers looking forward to the next generation Dakota midsized pickup slated for 2016. According to Dodge brand CEO and President Reid Bigland, the new Dodge Dakota project has been cancelled.
It should be noted that Mr. Bigland is the boss at Dodge and his comments about the Dodge Dakota plans being cancelled could mean that there is no midsized pickup headed for the Dodge brand. His comments do not necessarily mean that there is not a new truck smaller than the Ram 1500 headed for the Ram brand lineup but it does not appear that there will be a new Dakota before 2016 or so.
While the Chrysler Group had never confirmed the existence of a new Dodge Dakota in or around 2016, rampant rumors reinforced by off-the-cuff comments by both people inside of the Chrysler Group management team and other company works at plants around North America lead many to believe that the next Dakota was only a few years away. There were even rumors that the company had picked a production location for the next Dakota, supposedly slated to be built alongside the Dodge Caravan family in Canada.
I had a chance to sit down with former Ram boss Feed Diaz at the Detroit Auto Show and while he didn’t actually confirm the future Dakota – he made it very clear that the company was looking very closely at a new midsized pickup that may or may not be called the Dakota. Sources who asked to remain unnamed went so far as to insist that the plans for the next generation Dakota were already drawn up with a smaller, lighter duty design that would allow it to differentiate itself from the Ram 1500.
With the demise of the Ford Ranger, there is a growing gap in the US market for buyers who want a pickup but would rather have something that is smaller and more efficient than the average half ton truck. This means that the opportunities for the new smaller Ram pickup is continuing to grow so while the Dakota might be dead – there could still be a truck that is quite a bit smaller than the Ram 1500 on the horizon for the Ram brand.