"There is a vacuum left in the small pickup category," says Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence for TrueCar.com in a new Detroit Free Press report. And as we all know, the automotive industry abhors a vacuum.

Joe Veltri, VP of product planning for Chrysler, sees that vacuum as a potential for profits.

"Based on our data, young males still aspire to own a pickup," Veltri says in the story. "Historically, if you go back to the '80s, the compact or midsize pickup segment was bigger than the full-size segment."

So why are small trucks no longer popular? Veltri and others argue that as the sticker price of smaller pickups got bigger, larger pickups began to look more affordable. Why buy a small pickup for $20k when a full-size truck is only a couple thousand more? We might add: Why by a small pickup when they've gotten so large that they're not much easier to drive or park than their full-size contemporaries?

Veltri says nothing has been finalized, but the company has been talking about a new small pickup for ages now. In fact, way back in 2002, they rolled out the blazing yellow Dodge M80 concept shown above. We loved it then, we like it now. A little bit retro, a whole lotta masculine. Build it on a unibody platform for better fuel economy, price it well below the full-size Ram and, bingo, vacuum filled. Like the Honda Ridgeline, it would give non-traditional truck buyers a more economical choice. If it were properly executed, well-priced and managed appreciably better fuel economy, we think it could be a strong seller seller (a trick that has thus far eluded the Ridgeline).

News stories the past few years have suggested that Chrysler has been investigating a unibody pickup as a replacement for its now-deceased Dakota midsize truck for several now, but we haven't heard much about the possibility since CEO Sergio Marchionne admitted in January that there's a "Better than 50-percent chance" that the next Dakota will rely on unibody construction.


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  • 104 Comments
      THellURider
      • 2 Years Ago
      repeat after me, Jeep pickup - Medium size, 4 doors and a diesel.
        frost54661
        • 2 Years Ago
        @THellURider
        Yep, you and the other internet CEO's. Until they actually do it and they sit on dealer lots. (See Pontiac G8)
      icon149
      • 2 Years Ago
      get rid of the back doors on the 4 door jeep unlimited. add a pick up truck bed. call it done. sell them like hotcakes. why jeep still f's about with concept pick ups and never builds them is beyond me. small capable off roader that will look tough, haul mulch, and tow a ski boat... wow. wouldn't that be perfect... oh and *cough* diesel *cough*
        Mike D
        • 2 Years Ago
        @icon149
        This generation is on the way out, no way they make a major factory tooling change this late in the generation cycle. They might bring one out with the next gen though, that would make more sense.
      Orin O'Neill
      • 2 Years Ago
      Don't just make it small, make it CHEAP! Have an agricultural version for under $9K, and a decent daily driver for $12.5K. They'd sell by the trainload...
        Chip
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Orin O'Neill
        It'll never happen...but it should.
        frost54661
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Orin O'Neill
        Welcome to 2012, you won't ever see a truck priced at 9K, unless it's severely used.
      hellyenmtp
      • 2 Years Ago
      Back in the mid 80's when the small truck market was hot,all the manufactures sold well because they was cheap,good on gas & easy to work on,plus they had a huge following from the customizer's,remember the mini truck craze !!! they even had a magazine deicated to them..!!!
      The Wasp
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dodge/Ram -- please bring the Fiat Strada to the US, it's already ready to go (lower price would be nice, though).
      ThomasP
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why the Dodge Nitro was NOT a small pickup like the M80 pictured above still boggles my mind.
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ThomasP
        Considering it was based on the Jeep Liberty, I doubt it would have sold better if it was a pickup.
          justin
          • 2 Years Ago
          @carguy1701
          Considering the Liberty has a pretty rigid uniframe, I'd say it would do its job fine as a little truck. Little trucks aren't meant to do the job of a half ton. The Liberty currently has a 5K lb towing capacity. That's plenty for a small truck. The real challenge would be getting better MPGs and the question in quality are the issues. The Nitro seems to perform fine in light off road use. It's not a rock crawler obviously. So considering it's based on the Jeep Liberty, I'd say it would've sold better (Reg Cab, Ext Cab, Quad Cab w/ 4x4 option), challenged the segment and at the least made the small truck interesting while being usable.
          ThomasP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @carguy1701
          what do the jeep liberty underpinnings have to do with it?
      sloturbo
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think the market is ready for a small pick-up again. Even a 4 door one like the Subaru Baja.
      Blake
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ugh, the Power Wagon and M80 concepts were SO COOL. Bums me out they never made it to production.
      Cool people
      • 2 Years Ago
      Build a new El Camino ( Mopar) off a car chassis. Light weight weekend warrior . Get the price down an bust a new segment. It is price sensitive sector.
      Juan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yes, this is what I want....Chrysler just do it.
      ADRIANNE A
      • 2 Years Ago
      just build this, I will buy in a heartbeat...seriously
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      What about a Wrangler Pickup instead?
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