We haven’t seen a Ram Dakota in nearly a decade, but a trademark filing gives the strongest hint we’ve had yet at its return. Motor Trend recently pointed out FCA’s trademark application on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website, showing FCA’s interest in protecting the name.
Specifically, this trademark applies to “parts for vehicles, namely, automotive exterior decorative trim” with the Dakota name. The Dodge Dakota, as most of us know it, went out of production in 2011. By then, it technically fell under the then-new Ram brand, but wasn’t around long enough for the “Ram Dakota” name to catch on. Ever since, Ram has strictly kept to making the full-size Ram 1500, its heavy duty trucks, and rebadged Fiat commercial vans. Mind you, the Ford Ranger and Chevy Colorado were also axed around the same time as the Dakota, so Ram had a decent reason to not bother with a midsize offering for years to come.
Now though, the midsize truck landscape has seriously heated up. GM quickly brought a new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon to the fight, Ford rejoined the market with the T6-based Ranger in 2019, and now FCA itself launched another midsize truck in the Jeep Gladiator. Counting the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and Honda Ridgeline — all of which stuck around as American automakers exited, then rejoined the midsize field — Ram’s absence is especially noticeable. After all, how could you have one of the best-selling half-ton trucks on the market, and nothing smaller to take on your competition?
Fierce competition is Ram’s opportunity to shine (if FCA pulls the trigger)
To be clear, Ram has not officially announced its intention to launch a new Dakota just yet. As ever, the company will not comment on future products. However, while FCA may have applied for a Dakota trademark to protect itself from others using the name, it does signal that the company may actually use the name in the coming years.
Ram’s new truck lineup has been popular with buyers, as it continues to take on Ford’s F-Series and GM’s Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra. So, translating that success down a segment into a new Ram Dakota could create a win-win situation for FCA. Especially as the company works on a massive merger with PSA Group, the Dakota could shore up North American truck sales, which is key to the combined company’s goal to become one of the world’s largest automakers.