Marchionne: Ram Considers Compact/Midsize Pickup

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By Patrick Olsen, Cars.com

Ram is considering entering the compact/midsize pickup truck segment, according to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne. "I like that space a lot," he said Tuesday at the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show in Switzerland.

Asked whether Ram might enter the space given the success of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, whose combined sales in 2015 topped 115,000 units, Marchionne said FCA has an interest in bringing such a truck to the U.S.

"It's a good space to be in," he said. The big question to solve first? Whether it should be body-on-frame.

Marchionne said he believed that GM's profit margins are lower on its midsize trucks, while the cost to build them may not be much different than the cost to build a light-duty half-ton truck. Still, Fiat was showing off the Fullback at the Geneva motor show, a global pickup truck shared with Suzuki and built in Thailand. Marchionne acknowledged the Fullback was too small for the U.S., which likely means smaller unibody pickups like the Toro and Strada are out as well. 

Ram President and CEO Robert Hegbloom previously has expressed reservations about Ram entering the compact/midsize pickup segment, citing concerns about meeting the capability and pricing targets necessary to compete in the U.S. But using an existing unibody platform that's large and strong enough to meet those concerns might clear those hurdles.

While it seems clear that no decision has been made yet, Marchionne was enthusiastic about the idea: "Ram needs to be in that space," he said.

Cars.com photos by Aaron Bragman; manufacturer images

 

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Comments

I like the picture of the Toro the best of all.

Here's the scoreboard: Feb 2016 car sales report

•Fiat Chrysler: +11.8% (+9.2% expected)
•Nissan: +10.5% (+7.2% expected)
•Ford: +20.2% (+12.6% expected)
•GM: -1.5% (+5.1% expected)
•Honda: +12.8% (8.8% expected)
•Mazda: -16%
•Volkswagen: (-13%)
•Toyota: +5.2% (+4.9% expected)
•BMW: -12.4%
•Porsche: +11.2%
•Hyundai: +1%
•Kia: +13%
http://www.businessinsider.com/us-auto-sales-february-2016-2016-3

Anybody eating crow yet? I seem to remember some people saying there was simply no market for a smaller pickup. It seems they were wrong.

Anybody eating crow yet? I seem to remember some people saying there was simply no market for a smaller pickup. It seems they were wrong.

Very good market for Toyota Taco. Not so good for GM twins.


Ford’s retail sales rose 11 percent, but its strong numbers can be explained by a 36 percent increase in fleet sales. Executives said Tuesday that Ford’s fleet numbers are front-loaded this year (up 35 percent through the first two months of the year), compared to 2015 when its daily rental, government and commercial orders were low.

For the full year, Ford expects fleet sales will be slightly higher than 2015.

“We like this business,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “It’s a profitable business and we manage it very well.”

GM, meanwhile, reduced daily rentals by 39 percent last month as part of a planned decline. Its retail sales rose 7 percent.

“Our strategy is simple: grow profitable retail share while maintaining discipline with inventory levels and incentive spending, while reducing rental deliveries,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. vice president of sales operations.


Looks like Ford is pickup up the scraps. Now, good luck selling your used Ford vehicle for a decent price in a couple of years when used vehicle parking lots are flooded with cheap Fords.
Ford is going back to old days trying to patch up sagging sales with fleets dumps.

The truck above in the third picture down, seems like it is built off the same platform as the Jeep Cherokee is. As the owner of a 2015 Jeep Cherokee, I would be interested in one, if FCA does come out with one. The Jeep is very nice to drive, gets over 25 mpg hyw 20 city with the 270 hp V-6, and can tow up to 4500, I have pulled my 5500lbs Airstream for short distances a couple of time, and it did quite well, but I would not want to go too far with that, but I know it would be fine up to its rated capacity.

Man that's ugly.

@RoadWhale - all the market needed was some fresh modern products. Even with low fuel prices small trucks are selling well. The cheapskate argument was a lame one since most small trucks sold are overlapping full sized trucks in price. The local Gm dealer in town has Colorado/Canyons $40-53k. The only one's collecting dust (snow) are the plane jane fleet queen specials.

@roadwhale Are you serious? The herb is not only addictive it's illegal. Time to give it up.

Gas is one third the price of five years ago. Gas prices drive the mid size market. Midsize is an answer to a question that nobody is asking.

@papa jim--I don't think you understand what Road Whale was saying. Road Whale was not talking about midsize trucks but more of a compact size truck. There would be demand for a compact truck but the costs would have to be kept down with a shared platform and shared production facility. Something based on a cuv would be more feasible. FICA might be better to outsource a compact truck to possibly Mitsubishi or another Asian manufacturer. FCA is already considering outsourcing the manufacturing of its cars.

@Jeff S so you mean a car that is disguised as a truck...

I thought FCA was going to come out with a new Jeep Wrangler midsize pickup.

Bob, Jeep is coming out with a truck. Ram is thinking about it

My 1988 Cherokee body on frame is still running and pulling trailers just fine...build a decent looking mini-Ram and I might just buy it....

@Jeff S,
Mitsubishi are not that interested in building anything smaller than the L200, as it would not be very profitable. The L200 is the smallest Global Pickup around.
Mercedes is coming in 2018 with it's Pickup based loosely on the Nissan Navara, with it's own range of Diesels

@papa jim--Isn't that what a crossover is. What would you call the Dodge Rampage?

@Robert Ryan--Who knows what Mitsubishi would be willing to build. Mitsubishi doesn't necessarily have to build just their existing trucks. Fiat could build one of their little trucklets and put a Ram name plate on it. Marchionne has stated previously that Chrysler is looking into having other manufacturers build their cars for them. Chrysler could just give another manufacturer like Mitsubishi their designs and contract the production out to them. It would be less risk and cost for Chrysler to subcontract a smaller truck to another manufacturer especially an Asian manufacturer. I don't think we should assume that it would be an existing product like the L200. Until we hear more we shouldn't assume anything.

If Ram can make a unibody and sell it for significantly less than the Ridgline it would be a sales success. Whether it would be profitable is anyone's guess. That's the issue, can they make money? The more the merrier though...

You guys saying Dodge should have a small trucklet are the same ones that will call it a pos because it's not brand x

We have plenty of midsize options now. We need a compact truck.

Just bring back and build a next gen Dakota. Not that Fiat Fullback atrocity that they are calling a truck.

I say do it Ram, but don't built us no unibody thing though.

Just give me the wrangler pickup. If the size of a 2 door just with a 6ft bed it wouldnt be to big or to small. I need more offroad ability than these current 1500s. ALL of them are to low in the front to even get back some of my favorite places, Im not talking four wheeling for sport. I need a 6ft bed but I do not need 400 horses. I love my 2012 ram Ive beat the living hell out of it and never had an issue. But I HAD to put a level in front and pucks in the back just to get anywhere. And I went to multiple dealerships and measure front bumper clearance they where all about the same.

@Jeff S,
Mitsubishi, have been up sizing their offerings and very much more into SUV's . Mini Pickups are more what you would see in Mexicoand Brazil. As Fiat has a big presence in Brazil, I guess they would be the origin of any Mini Pickup

There will always be demand for small trucks,,
Any automaker not realizing this doesnt deserve to be in business..

https://youtu.be/0HLs26sPB7E

This is a good spot for Ram to push back into. The mid-size trucks from GM opened the door, and Ram would be crazy to pass it by. So would Ford, for that matter. A Fiat-based truck, though? Nah. Make it a Mopar, a new Dakota, or Ram 100. They should also bring back the regular cab. Offer a sport truck package.

@Jeff S good to see you back at PUTC by the way. Seriously, missed your comments.

re: CUV sure I suppose, but I thought we were talking about trucks. Honestly, I think Fiat has been humping the RAM and Jeep brands pretty hard during the last seven years and I'm not sure it's been particularly good for consumers or new RAM designs.

I don't see RAM being around in five years. I expect to see the Jeep brand absorb all of the North American half ton market for Fiat Chrysler.

I would not be surprised to see a major re-org at Fiat with one or more of their nameplates being sold or spun off. Sh*t happens.

FCA is *considering* a small pickup trucklette for the 80th time, in 4 or 5 years???

It's just to get in the news and give the Roadwhales, Vulpii, etc a hardon, and maybe hold off on buying the alternative, Tacoma, etc, but once again, it'll never materialize. FCA has become too accustom to not taking a loss on them, since the last ones rolled off the assembly line.

I'll bet they quit making them for a REASON!!! Ya THINK???

I'm sure FCA can think of better ways to flush capital down a hole. They know all the Vulpii, etc. are all full of hot air. FCA surely knows all of them will run to the showrooms to drool, but when it's time to put their money where their mouths are, suddenly their arms grow too short to reach their wallets.. It's called "T-Rex Syndrome"...

Yeah, DM. The fact that I already own two different FCA products means nothing at all.

A Rubicon pickup with the 3.0 V6 EcoDiesel and ZF 8HP70 will be the only midsize pickup anyone ever needs.

@Roadwhale - You uppin abandoned the mini-truck market while the gettin' was still good. You're a perfect example of why FCA is so hesitant to move forward (meaning backwards) with compact, smaller pickups.

Smaller compact pickups are better had, *used*. You can't tell me a little 2-seater pickup would be your daily driver. If so, you're way outside the 'norm'. No, most would be relegated to weekend chores, play, yard-sale hunts, warrior of The Home Depots, etc

Americans aren't really into buying brand new vehicles that'll sit around, Sunday to Friday, especially since extra vehicles are usually exposed to the elements a lot. And since it's an extra vehicle, the deadbeat brother-in-law is always needing to borrow it for a couple weeks and brings it back all dirty and with an empty tank.

Might as well make it a '96 Mitsu Mighty Max or Hard Body, if it has to be small or compact truck.

@papa jim--Thanks. What I meant with the cuvs is that the manufacturers have capitalized on using a front wheel drive platform for a taller vehicle that offers an alternative to the suv. I am not saying a cuv is the same as an suv, but a cuv offers AWD at a lower cost to produce than an suv. If a compact truck were based on the same platform that a cuv were based on then the manufacturer would save a lot of development and production costs. At the right price point a compact truck based on a front wheel drive unibody platform could be successful. I am not advocating for such a vehicle but I could see a market for such a product especially if it were produced overseas with a lower labor cost.

Marchionne has already stated that he is looking at outsourcing car production to focus on truck and suv production. If Chrysler did outsource production then the existing plants that are making cars could be utilized to produce Rams and Jeeps. A case could be made for producing a compact truck if it were outsourced and if it could be produced at a lower cost. I am not saying Chrysler will do this but I do believe that they are looking at this as a possibility. The link below shows that Chrysler is having trouble moving the 200s and the Darts. Sergio is looking at outsourcing production and concentrating on trucks and suvs.

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/02/chrysler-200-sales-freefall-no-wonder-sergio-shut-production/#more-1278418

@Jeff S I hate to say I told you so, but five years ago I was always saying that American consumers wanted cars like the Expedition, the Suburban, the full sized pickups.

Every January all the women go on a diet for 4 weeks like it is clockwork.

Same with small cars, everybody thinks we should drive them--especially politicians--but when nuttin time rolls around we buy half tons and big SUVs Cheaper gas has simply made it more pronounced.

Dodge Dart? No thanks.

@papa jim--There are plenty of consumers that buy a smaller vehicle for more than fuel economy. I can well afford a full size crew cab pickup but I don't want one. I know others who feel the same way. A smaller truck is easier to park, much tighter steering, and takes up a lot less space. I have owned full size V-8 powered vehicles in the past and I enjoyed them but I just don't need or want one, even if you gave me one. Many retired people I know get rid of their large sedans and trucks and buy compact crossovers and midsize trucks. They want something easier to get in and out of and easier to handle. I still drive a 99 S-10 extended cab pickup that I bought 17 years ago new not because of the mpgs or not because I cannot afford one, but because I like its size and the way it handles. I don't need a ladder or steps to get into the bed and the bed itself is big enough to haul lawn equipment and furniture. If gasoline were 30 cents a gallon I would still drive a midsize truck and a compact crossover.

I myself don't want a subcompact but compact and midsize are just about the right size for my needs and wants. I don't want to force my preferences on others but I do not want others to force their preferences on me. I don't expect all the manufacturers to make midsize or compact trucks but I as a consumer don't have to be obligated to buy anything they make. I could just as easily buy a South Korean, Japanese, or even Chinese made truck or crossover if the price, features, and reliability are good. Unlike many of those who comment on this website I am not brand loyal and I have owned many brands and sizes of vehicles. I buy what I want and need and not to impress others. Anyone who judges me on what I drive is no one that I want to be friends with. I am old enough that I don't feel the need to impress others.

I would buy the Fullback or a similarly-sized truck in extended cab format if it were sold in the U.S.

Bringing the Fullback/L200 here as a Dakota is a no-brainer. Since the platform already exists, FCA would only have to spend a modest sum of money update it for the U.S. market and add a six-cylinder gas engine rather than spending a large amount of money to develop a new platform from scratch. Giving the Fullback Ram/Dodge family sheet metal would make it look better, although I think it looks fine as is.

The Fiat Fullback is not too small. It is slightly bigger than the last U.S. Ranger, so it is just the right size. The turning circle, at well under 40 feet, is much smaller than the other mid-sized trucks. The current Tacoma and the Colorado are too big for me. If I want something bigger, I would step up to a half-ton truck.

@DM:

"You uppin abandoned the mini-truck market while the gettin' was still good. You're a perfect example of why FCA is so hesitant to move forward (meaning backwards) with compact, smaller pickups."
-- No, DM. The compact pickups abandoned ME. I owned an '83 Mitsubishi Sport (bigger engine than Mighty Max) and liked it. Well equipped for what it was and I'd already upgraded the audio system with a new head unit and replacement speakers before the first year was out, as well as installing an SSB CB radio.

"Smaller compact pickups are better had, *used*. You can't tell me a little 2-seater pickup would be your daily driver. If so, you're way outside the 'norm'. No, most would be relegated to weekend chores, play, yard-sale hunts, warrior of The Home Depots, etc."
-- Today, yes. Because there are no "smaller pickups" other than the current model Nissan and even that's notably larger than the '80s models. However, I'm currently driving a '97 Ranger as my daily driver. 20mpg city to almost 27mpg highway for a 19-year-old trucklet.

"Americans aren't really into buying brand new vehicles that'll sit around, Sunday to Friday, especially since extra vehicles are usually exposed to the elements a lot. And since it's an extra vehicle, the deadbeat brother-in-law is always needing to borrow it for a couple weeks and brings it back all dirty and with an empty tank."
-- Someone's making assumptions that it would "sit around Sunday through Friday."

"Might as well make it a '96 Mitsu Mighty Max or Hard Body, if it has to be small or compact truck."
-- Would love to see an all new version of both of these... but don't expect it.

@Jeff S:
Thanks. What I meant with the cuvs is that the manufacturers have capitalized on using a front wheel drive platform for a taller vehicle that offers an alternative to the suv. I am not saying a cuv is the same as an suv, but a cuv offers AWD at a lower cost to produce than an suv. If a compact truck were based on the same platform that a cuv were based on then the manufacturer would save a lot of development and production costs. At the right price point a compact truck based on a front wheel drive unibody platform could be successful. I am not advocating for such a vehicle but I could see a market for such a product especially if it were produced overseas with a lower labor cost.

You might note that Hyundai has already given the green light to one of these. The Santa Cruz is coming, though I don't know if it will be later this year or next year before we actually see it on the lots.

Sorry Jeff... forgot to put your paragraph in quotes.

Guys, we've had this discussion before. In the 1970s, the value proposition worked for the automakers because their small coupes and sedans were rear-drive & front engine/body on frame designs.

Make a few small changes and Voila! you have a pickup. Naturaly GM, Ford and MoPar were late to that dance and Nissan and Toyota ate their lunch for about ten years.

Today, the small sedans and coupes are all front drive unitized designs and they don't cheaply translate into pickups anymore--see Ridgeline.

The world changed. The energy picture changed.

The market changed.

@Roadwhale - Call it what you want, but small/compact pickup makers got tired of waiting for you and the other roadwhales and vulpii to come back and buy more of them.

By the late '80s, you and the others had mostly migrated midsize stuff, especially midsize SUVs. So isn't your Wrangler a midsize SUV?? If you don't call that "abandonment" of the small/compact pickup segment, perhaps "moved on" is a better sentiment.

I feel your pain though. I recently went looking to buy parachute pantz at my local mall and stores around the city. Darnit, there's none to be found! Except I know myself and the others that stop buying them are the ones to blame, not the retailers. They're just following trends and 'going with the flow'.

Car makers can't possibly make enough money off of compact pickup. Today they share virtually zero platform or drivetrain parts with compact cars, cross overs, etc. Specially since they would be facing a small niche market.

The 'numbers' just aren't there. Too bad, really.

So build your own trucklette from a modified cross over, or restore and old one. Of course have an qualified shop do it for you, like I'm having a tailor sew up some retro parachute pantz for me, but if you like Rabbit trucks, especially diesels, get one now, as prices are climbing dramatically. They're really cool pickups actually, plus with GTI wheels/parts/mods, they can be a kick too.

Seriously though, it's your choice to enjoy life, taking control or be miserable all the time.

Man that is hideous! Lol

I think FCA has been showing small truck concepts for so long that no one can take them serious until they actually do something. FCA might very well be waiting for the Hyundai Veracruz to see how well it does. Comparing a Honda Ridgeline to any potential smaller unibody offering is not really a true comparison. Honda's offering is a fully loaded crew cab with AWD which is more comparable to a Pilot which is where it was derived from. I doubt a Fiat Strada cost as much as a Ridgeline. A less expensive compact truck can be made but it would have to be more on the lines of a Strada. Even if FCA decided to make a smaller truck it would probably be no sooner than 2020. FCA now has to survive and find ways to become profitable. I think outsourcing their cars might be a start. Any small truck FCA would produce would be better off being outsourced.

Lol. "Not big enough for the American market" is greedy corporation for "we can't price gouge the hell out of everyone as easily". The margins may not be as big, but they would sell the hell out of a compact pickup and makeup for the margins in sales volume. Too bad stockholders have corporations by the balls or they could actually take chances.

The spike in midsize sales is telling that people want smaller trucks. Many like myself would go smaller, but we can't. I want the engines and components and capabilities of the new trucks packed back into the smaller bodies they used to have.

This Fiat would be perfect. First company to build one will get my money.

@Eric - The spike in midsize truck sales may have little to do with "people want smaller trucks". They could just as likely be "up sizing" from the compact or midsize vehicles they're trading in.

Fullsize truck brands haven't been giving up much market share to midsize trucks, except maybe a few "fleet sales" here or there. But auto makers/share holders are not seeing or forecasting the "volume" sales necessary to clear a tidy profit from compact-midsize pickups.

With advanced research, the guessing game is just about taken out of the equation. And car makers realize those screaming the most for "compact-midsize" pickups, are very unlikely to put down a non refundable "deposit" down on a compact-midsize.

Just a lot of hot air.

I'd absolutely love for OEMs to bring back 2-seater mid-engine, compact sports cars, (Fiero, X19, MR2). I scream, up and down on all kinds of forums, and I'd without a doubt, put one in my fleet, except I'd be buying it *used*.

OEMs know compact-midsize pickups are less likely to be anyone's primary daily-driver, more like a 2nd vehicle you buy used.

@DenverIIIMike take a look at the guys you see driving 15 year old rangers and S10s They are delivering pizza (or auto parts). The auto parts and pizza companies might have some limited enthusiasm for a rebirth of the compact pickup--everybody else, doubtful.

the MR2? I saw one this week that looked mint. I'd need to loose 100 pounds to fit in one, but it brought back nice memories. In the meantime there's always a Miata...

The Miata is the next best thing, but there's nothing like a mid-engine compact.

@DM:

"The spike in midsize truck sales may have little to do with "people want smaller trucks". They could just as likely be "up sizing" from the compact or midsize vehicles they're trading in."
-- Or they could be cross-shopping from large and mid-sized SUVs and crossovers.

"Fullsize truck brands haven't been giving up much market share to midsize trucks, except maybe a few "fleet sales" here or there. But auto makers/share holders are not seeing or forecasting the "volume" sales necessary to clear a tidy profit from compact-midsize pickups."
-- But full- and mid-sized SUVs and crossovers have seen somewhat of a reduction in market, admittedly marginally, with the advent of the smaller pickup.

"With advanced research, the guessing game is just about taken out of the equation. And car makers realize those screaming the most for "compact-midsize" pickups, are very unlikely to put down a non refundable "deposit" down on a compact-midsize."
-- Then again, it has been proven more than once that people don't really know what they want until it's shown to them; so using "advanced research" can come up with a wrong answer as well as a right one. Despite all the noise against them, the mid-sized pickup IS seeing a resurgence and is pulling share from an unexpected quarter.

"I'd absolutely love for OEMs to bring back 2-seater mid-engine, compact sports cars, (Fiero, X19, MR2). I scream, up and down on all kinds of forums, and I'd without a doubt, put one in my fleet, except I'd be buying it *used*."
-- They're out there, if you look hard enough. But it looks like the front-engine roadster is working that side of the game right now.

"OEMs know compact-midsize pickups are less likely to be anyone's primary daily-driver, more like a 2nd vehicle you buy used."
-- In a 2-car family, such a "2nd vehicle" IS a daily driver. Most families own 2.5 cars just as they have 2.5 kids on average.



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