Executives inside what is now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. have been arguing about building a midsize pickup truck for nearly a decade, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne told the media this week during a meeting at the North American International Auto Show.
Marchionne told reporters that FCA had not made any decisions on a future midsize pickup even as Ford Motor Co. revealed its new Ford Ranger during the press previews for the NAIAS.
“We’re still studying it,” said Marchionne, who acknowledge that the midsize segment where the new Ranger will compete with the Chevrolet Colorado, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier have has come alive in the last couple of years.
Executives from Mitsubishi, which briefly offered a version of the midsize truck offered by Chrysler, is hoping to get back into the truck market with a midsize pickup truck in the next couple of years from its new alliance partner Nissan.
(No sale: FCA not negotiating with Chinese, willing to sell Jeep. Click Here for the story.)
The fact Marchionne didn’t kill the idea when he had a chance suggests there is support within FCA’s ranks for some kind of midsize pickup. FCA built a well-regarded midsize pickup, the Dakota, up until 2010 when it was dropped.
Instead, what was then the Chrysler Group placed its scarce resources behind the new version of the full-size Ram 1500 pickup truck, which took over the production lines at the Warren Truck plant. For years afterwards, FCA executives said they were quoted often, saying they were looking at ways to bring out a replacement for the Dakota that would sell alongside the Ram 1500.
One of the outcomes of those discussions is the new Jeep pickup truck based on the Jeep Wrangler.
(Click Here for more about the new Ford Ranger.)
As for the Dakota replacement, the problem has been that up until now the FCA’s studies have concluded that it would be as expensive to build as the new full-size Ram 1500, Marchionne he said during a meeting with reporters.
Marchionne also said FCA is looking for a way to utilize the platform used for the Chrysler Pacifica minivan to use as the starting point for the development of another vehicle that could be added to the FCA model line-up.
(To see more about Marchionne’s media roundtable event, Click Here.)
FCA announced last week it plans to move the production of the heavy-duty pickup truck now built in Saltillo, Mexico, to the Warren Truck plant in 2020, creating some 2,500 new jobs in the process. The Saltillo plant will then be used to build a new generation of commercial vehicles that will be sold all over the world under the Ram and Fiat brands.