Dodge Dakota making a comeback?
Fiat Chrysler (FCA) has once again trademarked the Dakota name—should we get excited about the Dodge Dakota possibly making a comeback?
Maybe. Probably not.
What the Dakota would look like
Here’s the case for: the Dakota was trademarked. We know that midsized trucks are a burgeoning market, with the long-alone (at least in terms of getting decent sales) Toyota Tacoma facing competition for years from the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, and now from the Ford Ranger. While FCA sold a Mitsubishi L200 as the Ram 1200 (see what they did there?) and Fiat Fullback outside of the United States and Canada, Mitsubishi has been grabbed by Renault, and FCA was faced with the need to create a new pickup. Word had this one coming from the United States, though it would probably have made more sense to adapt the ProMaster (front-drive though it is) into a pickup.
That was before FCA and Peugeot (well, PSA) decided they really loved each other and wanted to make it official. Peugeot already has a metric-ton pickup designed for the-world-except-for-the-United-States-and-Canada, a joint venture with a Chinese company. It could be sold as a Ram in some markets, and stay a Peugeot in others. There’s no compelling need, really, for FCA-PSA to risk spending billions and billions of dollars in development and tooling, when they might end up with a disappointing piece of the pie. Consider the Ram ProMaster’s sales versus those of the Ford Transit, for example: the FCA van barely registers on sales charts, while the Ford dominates. Can FCA go up against both Ford and Toyota in a new segment, where it would be a latecomer? Quite possibly, it can’t—in North America. Especially in an economic downturn, when many would want the safe, established truck (Toyota).
What really makes the case against the Dakota is a closer look at the new trademark. While other sources just saw a trademark, we looked closer and saw that the trademark is not for a vehicle. It’s for “exterior decorate trim.” Nameplates, in short. FCA wants to be able to sell Mopar replacement nameplates for the Dakota, without competition. They’re renewing a trademark they already have, to sell Dakota nameplates. The word “Ram” is nowhere in their filing.
There may be a new Dakota; but chances are, in the US and Canada, there will not be, and in the rest of the world, it will simply be a new-generation Ram 1200.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, lives in Farmingdale, New York, and can be reached at +1.516-531-4021.