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Chrysler sees new hope for small pickups

Dodge M80 concept

Dodge M80 concept (Credit: Handout)

The thought process was always pretty simple: Younger buyers could purchase smaller, more affordable pickups, and then when they get older and earn more money, they could step up to larger full-size trucks. And that was the template and strategy for decades.

Then full-size trucks prices dropped with strong competition and huge incentives on the hood, with the result being a compact/midsize truck segment squeezed to a fraction of what it once was. Now, conventional wisdom may be shifting, as some see a potential need for small trucks again, but this time to a different kind of buyer.

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Chrysler's vice president of product planning, Joe Veltri, is convinced that there's a market for a small, affordable pickup truck, and we agree with him.

Interestingly, Veltri seems to believe the group most likely to want these small pickup trucks will not be young buyers looking for a less expensive, versatile vehicle to fit their varied lifestyles, but more likely to be aging baby boomers looking to downsize in their later stages of life from their full-size truck choices.

Veltri talks quite a bit in the interview about the possibility of a unibody chassis for such a vehicle but insists the final decision has not been made. Over the last 10 years, there has been plenty of speculation about what Chrysler would do with the next-generation Dodge Dakota, with concepts like the Dodge M80 and Dodge Rampage garnering a lot of excitement for the brand.

Could this finally be the crack in the door many have been waiting for?

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