Last month, our good friends over at the Brazilian-based automotive site, Auto Segredos (Auto Secrets) posted some interesting new information about an upcoming compact pickup from Ram called “Project 291”. Since then, the interwebs have spiraled out of control, with false rumors and information about a new “Dakota” truck or midsized offering.
So we figured we would go over the detail that we know, as well as what to expect about the future of smaller Ram pickup offerings.
Latin America –
Over the past few years, Ram has continued to grow its position in the Latin America (LATAM) market. Originally, only offering the Ram 2500 Laramie as a Heavy Duty pickup for the agriculture scene for a number of years, the brand’s portfolio has expanded depending on the country in the region. Currently, there is a large portfolio of pickups and commercial vehicles for Ram in LATAM. However, a majority of the brand’s full-sized offerings are considered to be luxury items in the LATAM marketplace.
Among the pickup offerings for Ram in LATAM are…
- Ram 700 – Subcompact front-wheel-drive (FWD) four-door unibody pickup based on the highly-successful Fiat Strada (sold in Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Mexico).
- Ram 1000 – Compact FWD and four-wheel-drive (4×4) four-door unibody pickup based on the Fiat Toro (sold in Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama, Peru, and Chile).
- Ram 1500 (DS) – The fourth-generation Ram 1/2-ton is offered in select markets.
- Ram 1500 (DT) – The fifth-generation Ram 1/2-ton is again offered in select markets, with the highlight being the Rebel in Brazil.
- Ram 2500 (DJ) – The Ram 3/4-ton is offered in most of the LATAM region and has been a centerpiece of the Ram portfolio since 2005 in LATAM.
- Ram 3500 (D2) – Recently launched in Brazil, it marks the first time a 1-ton Ram pickup has been offered in the LATAM region. It is offered in luxurious Laramie and Limited Longhorn configurations.
Project 291 –
In Brazil, the FIAT brand dominates the pickup market with its Strada and Toro offerings. Ram, on the other hand, is more of a premium offering. It wouldn’t make sense to compete against vehicles like the Strada and Toro with badge-engineered vehicles from Ram. So Ram has to come up with a different kind of offering. One complaint of the Toro is its limited box size. Project 291, looks to address this.
While the Toro (Ram 1000) utilizes the Small-Wide 4×4 architecture, Project 291 will use a stretched version of it, similar to what is underpinning the all-new Jeep® Commander (H1). This means the Toro will be slightly wider and longer than the Toro.
Power will come from the small displacement engines. While Autos Segredos believes that Project 291 will be powered by a 2.0-liter version of the Tigershark engine family, Stellantis has been cutting back on the Tigershark family in favor of its much potent GSE (Global Small Engine) also called “FireFly” engines. We believe that the 1.3-liter and possibly the new 1.5-liter turbocharged GSE-T4 engines could be under the hood, instead. There could also be a diesel option, however, Stellantis has expressed interest in moving away from diesel internal combustion engines (ICEs), in favor, of electrified offerings.
Project 291 should be comparable in size to the compact 2022 Ford Maverick. Ram will benchmark the Maverick for its new Project 291 pickup, as the Maverick will be available in the LATAM marketplace. However, the big rumor that is confusing everyone, is that the Project 291 pickup could be slated for import to the North American marketplace.
We could see Project 291, come to market sometime in 2023.
A True Midsized Ram –
As for a true midsized Ram, Stellantis gave us our best hint of what it intends to bring to market during the company’s EV Day 2021 presentation. During his part of the presentation, Head of Stellantis Design, Ralph Gilles showed that the upcoming STLA Large architecture would allow the Ram brand to bring an electrified midsized pickup to market.
Ram has teased a midsized pickup for the past several years, with their intentions being told at the Capital Markets Day event back in 2018. With Ram’s focus being the new electrified Ram 1500 Battery-Electric Vehicle (BEV) and Range Electric Paradigm Breaker (REPB) and the amount of upcoming STLA Large vehicles coming, we doubt we will see a midsized pickup before 2025.
The possibilities of an STLA Large-based midsized pickup are endless. It would offer something completely different than the body-on-frame (BoF) Jeep Gladiator while offering both BEV and ICE capability. It would also allow the midsized pickup to offer unique packaging, like interior configuration, storage capability, and exterior design.
The STLA Large architecture is capable of offering 800 kilometers (500 miles) of range, 150 kW to 330 kW electric drive modules (EDMs), and a possible tri-motor configuration.
Nevertheless, it looks like we will have to continue to wait for a smaller Ram offering. The Chrysler Group has been known for arriving late to the party when it comes to new vehicle launches, but when they do make it, they usually don’t disappoint.