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After 24 Years, Dodge Halts Dakota Pickup Production


2011 Dodge Dakota

2011 Dodge Dakota

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In 1987, Dodge launched a new pickup-truck segment with the introduction of its midsize Dakota pickup.

Back then, it was a fresh idea, since many buyers found compact pickup trucks to be too small and full-size pickup trucks to be too large. Borrowing the logic from a children’s story, Dodge created a truck that it hoped buyers would find “just right,” and for many years the Dakota was a relative success.

Time marches on, and the Dakota has found itself a player without a niche in recent years. Compact trucks have grown in size, eliminating an advantage that the Dakota once held.

Worse, the market for compact pickups has declined steadily over the past decade, and now accounts for just five percent of new vehicle sales. In 2000, Dodge sold over 177,000 Dakota pickups, but in 2010 the renamed Ram division moved just 13,000 units.

As industry analyst Jim Hall summed it up, “The tooling was paid off, but volumes got sub-critical.”

Perhaps the final nail in the Dakota’s coffin was this year’s price cut on the full-size 2011 Ram 1500, which makes the newer, full-size Ram cheaper than the smaller and older Dakota. The last 2011 Ram Dakota pickup will roll off of the line at Chrysler’s Warren Truck Plant on Tuesday, August 23.

The future of the workers building the Dakota remains up in the air. Thirty-nine temporary workers have already been laid off, and the UAW believes that number could ultimately reach 150. Chrysler has plans for a car-based “lifestyle vehicle” for the Ram brand, but neither a production location nor a production start date are known at this time.

The 2011 Ram Dakota becomes the second familiar vehicle to be killed off this week, joining the 2011 Mazda RX-8 in the great automotive showroom in the sky.

[The Detroit News]

 
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Comments (2)
  1. This decision has been in the works for awhile as is the replacement truck. Ram should transition smoothly with this product and when the new version hits the market, new jobs will follow. With Ram looking for places to manufacture a whole host of Fiat/Iveco based trucks for Ram a place will need to be found for all of them and for Dakota. This might be the only fly in the ointment Bet Chrysler wishes they didn't sell their Newark, Delaware plan where Durangos were made. Might have been an option.
     
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  2. That's sad news. I owned three of them - a '91, a '97, and an '01... all 4WD, the first two with sixes and and the last a V8 - and loved each of them. They were capable, reliable, trucks and, I thought, the perfect size. The pricing issues aside, I don't think the '05 re-styling was well received - and the truck never regained the sales momentum it lost. As for me, I compared an '03 Quad-Cab Dakota to an '03 Quad-Cab Cummins-powered Ram 2500 - and the big truck with the diesel cost just a couple-thou more than the Dakota. I'm now on my second 2500 - and I guess everyone else has gone full-size too. Au revoir, Dakota.
     
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