Dakota Redux? Ram promises the workers another truck
One agreement that could put an end to the auto industry’s longest strike since the 1970s is a good deal, not just for workers but for truck enthusiasts. Along with raises and new regulatory powers, the union won a new truck for the Americans.
The 46-day United Auto Workers (UAW) strike may be over, as the union has reached a tentative agreement with each of Detroit’s Big Three automakers. Union members still have to vote to accept the deal and can leave their jobs again if they are not satisfied with what the negotiators won for them. But this morning’s headlines are full of union victories.
One such triumph is the promise by Stellantis, Ram’s parent company, that it will introduce a new truck.
“We won a new vehicle” at the Belvidere assembly plant in Illinois, UAW Vice President Rich Boyer noted in his summary of the agreement for workers. “It will be a mid-sized truck.” He says Stellantis will also add more than 1,000 jobs at a new battery plant in Belvedere.
The Belvedere plant has been out of operation since February, when it stopped producing the Jeep Cherokee small SUV.
Stellantis has not officially commented. So, we don’t officially know if the car is a Ram or not. But Stellantis sells all but one of its pickup trucks under the Ram brand (the Jeep Gladiator is the only exception), so Ram would be the natural badge to fix on a new truck.
With that in mind, what new truck will appear in the Ram lineup soon? There are two possible answers.
Option 1: Dakota’s rebirth
Specifically, Boyer said the new truck will be a “midsize.” The Stellantis lacks a traditional midsize truck (the Gladiator is more of an off-road truck with a bed) to compete with the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and Chevrolet Colorado.
Ram could revive an old name for a new midsize truck. The original Dakota was sold from 1987 until 2011 when Ram was part of the Dodge brand. It was, at times, America’s best-selling midsize truck, remembered for its distinctive crosshair grille and semi-truck-like stepped headlights.
Ram reportedly showed its dealers a design for the reborn Dakota pickup earlier this year.
The second option: rampage
But Rahm has a second option ready to go. The company debuted a new pickup truck called the Rampage earlier this year. Ram only sells it in Brazil, but the styling looked suspiciously American — right down to the stars and stripes in the taillights. We speculated at the time that the Rampage might have been headed to the United States eventually.
It’s smaller than what most observers call a midsize—more of a competitor to the compact Ford Maverick than the midsize Ranger.
But the Belvidere plant is currently set up to build car-like unibody vehicles like the Cherokee, and the Rampage is built using that technology. An actual body-on-frame truck would require significant retooling at the factory.
So we can’t say which Ram truck will debut in the United States, but it appears the company has committed to at least one other truck. We’ll provide updates when Stellantis has something to say about the reported promise.