Is There Still Hope for Compact Pickups?

February 28, 2010
Reports of plans by all the Big Three U.S. automakers to ditch their compact pickups seems to be painting a bleak portrait for the future of small trucks in the U.S. But has the demise of the compact truck been prematurely predicted?

Recently my colleague Tim Healey here at AllPickupTrucks.com posted on the question of whether compact pickups might vanish from the U.S. market. In light of the limited success seen by American compact truck offerings and rumors of American automakers nixing the small truck offerings, it's a fair question to ask.

Interestingly though, Tim's post came on the heels of Tim's own brief but insightful interview with Mike Levine of PickupTrucks.com [see earlier post HERE]. In response to one of Tim's questions concerning the direction of the pickup truck market over the next five to ten years, Levine said he sees the return of "true" compact pickups in lieu of the mid-size pickups we have today. This interesting observation somewhat flies in the face of the thought that compact pickups will ultimately vanish from the American market.

Could it be that Levine's words of wisdom are exactly that? Is the U.S. truck market simply going through a period of renewal and redefinition? Maybe we in the U.S. are ready to return to the roots of compact pickups and embrace truly small pickup offerings. It seems that Mahindra is certainly hoping so [see earlier post HERE].

Dodge M80 Concept back - courtesy of Chrysler Media

Dodge M80 Concept back - courtesy of Chrysler Media

Enlarge Photo
Levine's hopeful comments concerning the possibility of a compact truck renaissance brought to mind an interesting concept vehicle from Dodge dating back eight years. At the 2002 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) Dodge introduced the Dodge M80 concept truck. The concept, which was based on a modified Dodge Dakota platform, exhibited a minimalist design for a small, inexpensive, yet very capable compact pickup.

I remember that the Dodge M80 concept even caused quite a stir in the hallowed halls of Toyota truck design. A former Toyota engineer colleague who was instrumental in the development of the current generation of the Tacoma pickup had some high praise for the M80 concept. He seemed to think that Dodge might really be onto something, even as the Tacoma was heading further toward the bloated proportions it presently sports as originally inspired by the "mid-size" Dodge Dakota.

Maybe the Dodge M80 pickup concept should be considered as some serious food for thought for both domestic and import truck makers interested in keeping compact pickups in the U.S. market. Check out the write-up on the Dodge M80 provided by our colleagues over at Allpar.com.

[Source: AllPickupTrucks.com, Allpar.com]

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