The incredible shrinking Ram Dakota! Incoming Toyota HiLux fighter could end up smaller than the Ford Maverick

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The incredible shrinking Ram Dakota. (image credit: KDesign AG)

Ram is “actively and aggressively” developing a new truck smaller than the current 1500, with the company’s chief suggesting the brand could produce vehicles even smaller than the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz.

That’s the word from Ram CEO Mike Koval Jr, who recently told US outlet autoblog that, while the Jeep Gladiator platform could provide a solid base for a true Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger rival, he was also investigating producing smaller unibody trucks that could be even more compact than Maverick.

Mr Koval told the publication that Ram could lean on its Stellantis partners to source smaller truck products, and even called out the brand’s success in Australia as evidence of the need to fill multiple truck segments.

Whether a micro-ute would be in addition to a mid-size Dakota/1200, or instead of it, isn’t clear, but one thing we do seem to know is that something smaller than a Ram 1500 this way comes.

All should be revealed soon enough, with recent confirmation the brand is now working on a concept to show its US dealers ahead of an anticipated 2023 or 2024 launch.

“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,” Mr Koval Jr recently 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.

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, although the brand is coy on detail for now.

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.

Too much power for a tiny ute? Maybe. But it might also look right at home in a mid-size off-road hero that could answer the Ford Ranger Raptor.

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