Ram chief believes midsize pickup could prove too expensive image

The Ram brand is one of the greatest assets that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has – it caters for the rejuvenated American love of pickup trucks. But expanding the lineup of the niche brand is something else entirely.

According to the division’s leader, Bob Hegbloom, the numbers are not fitting to make a midsize pickup truck offering viable for mass-production – with the primary concern being the associated costs with upcoming targets for the US-wide average fuel economy. General Motors recently decided to take another swing at the segment the Detroit three abandoned to the Japanese automakers with the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. But Hegbloom believes there’s no possibility for Ram to bring a model that could become the spiritual successor to the Dodge Dakota, axed back in 2011. Back in the heyday of midsize pickups, the 1980s, customers acquired the models because of their smaller dimensions, lower costs and “incredible fuel economy” – which overcame the fact that full-size pickups were considerably more capable. “When you look at those factors, that’s truly what a midsize pickup customer is looking for,” commented Hegbloom on the sidelines of the New York auto show.

The executive said the main problem is the ratio between an “incredible” fuel economy and affordability. In the current market conditions, that level of mileage means at least 35 mpg for the segment, while the Ram full-size model equipped with a diesel engine only makes 29 mpg on the highway. When it comes to the Colorado and Canyon midsize pickups, matters are even worse – they top out at 27-mpg highway. Getting to the 35 mpg threshold would be feasible, for example using a smaller diesel powertrain, but the needed technology would kill off another trait – the low price.