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The Exciting New Product From Ram Is Expected To Take The Shape Of A Unibody Truck

Ram 1000 Fiat Toro Dakota 1200
The Fiat Toro-based Ram 1000 in South America. Image via Stellantis.

There is now solid, concrete evidence that Stellantis is working on a smaller Ram pickup truck to slot below the Ram 1500. Speculated to either be called the Ram 1200 or Ram Dakota, it’s likely to compete with the Ford Maverick, or go somewhere in between that small truck and the incoming pack of highly competitive midsize pickup trucks from Chevrolet, GMC, Ford and Toyota.

The images, found on Autoblog, don’t show much. In fact, the photographed subject in question appears to look more like a parade float than a pickup truck with all of the tape and cardboard(?) cladding. Obfuscating the pickup truck profile is a scaffolding rig propping up a canopy of camouflage up and over the bed, extending the roofline to make this prototype appear more like an SUV or a van. We saw Ford do the same thing when developing the Maverick party truck in the early stages.

How can we surmise that it’s a Ram 1200 / Ram Dakota pickup truck, and not somebody else’s future product? The Fiat Strada following the pair of test mules, which were photographed at a gas station in the Swedish arctic circle. The prototype is proportionally bigger than the Strada, but will likely debut with a unibody architecture that’s used for cars and crossovers, rather than a traditional body-on-frame truck/SUV architecture.

Ram 1500 (Dakota): Everything We Know

Catching a prototype vehicle on public roads, covered this heavily in disguise, suggests that this Ram 1200 product is at least another two years out from scheduled production. And it may not even be called the Ram 1200 in the American market. It may be called something else, such as Dakota, a name all too synonymous with entry-level trucks from what used to be under the Dodge brand, before Ram decided to grow into its own marque in 2011.

Ram CEO Mike Koval mentioned at the end of the summer of 2022 that a concept version of a smaller Ram truck will be shown at the brand’s dealer meeting in March. The executive has otherwise expressed time and again that the company is aware of the opportunity that presents itself in the entry level truck space, with only the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz competing in the USA and Canada markets.

Fiat Strada Ram 700 Mopar Dakota Small Midsize Truck Pickup

Down in Brazil, Antonio Filosa, COO of Stellantis South America, let slip last April that the Ram 1200 truck is on the way, and is expected to be built at the Pernambuco plant alongside the compact Jeep Commander SUV for Brazil. it’s expected that the Ram 1200 will utilize an elongated version of the Stellantis Small Wide 4×4 Platform. Internally, it’s been known as Project 291.

It’s unclear if a USA/Canada Ram 1200 / Dakota small truck will also use the Stellantis Small Wide 4×4 Platform, or if it will adopt the STLA Medium or STLA Large architectures.

Ram 1200 aside, Stellantis currently has entry level pickup trucks for sale in the Latin American markets. There’s the Fiat Strada in South America, otherwise known as the Ram 700 in Mexico. Above that, there’s the Fiat Toro, otherwise known as the Ram 1000 in other markets. But with regulatory headwinds (the Chicken Tax, NHTSA and EPA barriers), these products have evaded the pickup truck positive USA and Canada.

“The largest biggest white space opportunity for our brand is a midsize pickup,” Koval told MC&T back in August of 2022.

“I’m absolutely looking at it, I promise you that… as prices have crept up I think there’s opportunity in that small truck portion in the US market, and that’s where I’m looking to leverage part of our portfolio that may exist in other countries and potentially bringing something here. I would love to do that. I don’t have plans to do so yet.”

Ram 700 Dakota Midsize Small Truck Stellantis Mike Koval
Ram 700 for the Mexican market. Image Via Stellantis.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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