Speaking with Automotive News at the New York Auto Show, Ram CEO Bob Hegbloom outlined four criteria for a successful midsize pickup, particularly in the North American marketplace: they have less capability than a fullsize truck, but return with a more compact form, lower price and considerably higher fuel economy. "I've been able to develop a strategy to come up with three of the four," said Hegbloom, but "I haven't seen anyone who can deliver on all four." Smaller and less capable are easy, but getting both the price and the fuel consumption down at the same time is where it gets tricky.
As it is, a Ram 1500 with the diesel engine and rear-wheel drive delivers 29 miles per gallon on the highway, which is already more than the 27-mpg rating on the midsize Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. But Hegbloom figures that in order to justify a midsize pickup, American buyers would expect at least 35 mpg on the highway, and in order to do so, FCA would have to employ some trick tech, which would in turn raise the price beyond an attractive level.
The last time Chrysler offered a midsize truck in America was with the Dakota that was discontinued in 2011. Ford similarly ceased offering the Ranger in North America in 2012, leaving the new Colorado and Canyon to take on the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier in the compact/midsize pickup market in the US.
With the prospect of a Ram version apparently off the table, then, Fiat's midsize four-door pickup is likely take on the likes of the Volkswagen Amarok, Mitsubishi Triton and Toyota Hilux in markets like Europe and South America. But like those trucks, it will likely never see the inside of an American showroom.