Ram’s long-awaited mid-size ute rival to the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger is close to reality, with the brand working on a concept to show its US dealers ahead of an anticipated 2023 or 2024 launch.
It’s big news for what is expected to be called the 1200 or Dakota, with Ram’s most senior executives confirming a plan was underway to get the new model approved and into production.
“We’ve always said we know that on a global basis, probably the biggest area, the biggest white space opportunity for our brand to grow, has been the mid-size pick-up,” Ram CEO Mike Koval Jr told Automotive News.
“We’re looking at it, believe me, I am. We’ll see, but I am thinking about bringing it and giving our dealers a sneak peek.”
It’s unclear what form that “sneak peek” might take, but the mere fact they’re getting a peek at something is good news. And if it’s dealer feedback that this decision hinges on, then the green light should come quickly.
“For years, we’ve been asking him for that,” Randy Dye, chairman of the Stellantis dealer council, told Detroit News.
“Consumers, not in large quantities, but in reasonable quantities look for a mid-size truck. We’re currently left out of that. If they can build a mid-size truck as good as they can build a full-size truck, it could not only do well, but lead. I have all the confidence it could be the best.”
The next question, of course, is what might power it. And Stellantis has some hints there, too, given the company recently whipped the covers off a fire-breathing new twin-turbo six-cylinder petrol engine that is heavily tipped to make its way to the brand’s pick-up truck portfolio.
The new 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline six petrol engine is part of a new Hurricane engine family, and will be offered in Standard Output and High Output forms.
In standard guise, you can expect around 300kW and 610Nm. But in High Output? Hold onto your hats, because the new donk is expected to target 375kW and 645Nm.
That would be enough to haunt the new 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 in our Ford Ranger Raptor, which delivers 292kW and 583Nm.
Brazilian site Auto Segredos also scored a scoop on the new 1200/Dakota, with the site recently reporting Ram’s secretive Project 291 has been confirmed by Stellantis, and will go into production at a Jeep factory in Brazil as soon as early next year.
The news has reportedly been officially confirmed by Antonio Filosa, president of Stellantis South America in a briefing to local journalists, though the brand is coy on detail for now.
Keyword: A new ute king for Australia? Ram to give 'dealers a sneak peek' of all-new 1200/Dakota as it readies for battle with Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger