Ram has begun lifting the lid on the incoming Dakota mid-size ute, with the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger rival expected to offer ICE and electrified powertrains, and it could arrive in right-hand drive from the factory for Australia.
Ram boss Mike Koval showed an all-electric concept to the brand’s US dealers in March, which drove suspicions that the long-awaited ute would be an EV only offering.
But Mr Koval told Australian media that wouldn’t be the case, with an electric-only powertrain limiting the truck’s popularity in global markets. Instead, the model would be offered with a choice of engine or motor, with ICE and EV both on the table.
Read more about the Ram Dakota
When asked if, given ICE remains a core part of Ram’s strategy, the new ute would keep a foot in both powertrain camps, Mr Koval replied: “Yes, because I don't want to limit my opportunities.”
“I would be doing the team a disservice if I didn’t (offer ICE). I want to be able to sell it in every market around the world."
The Dakota - although that name is yet to be confirmed - would form a key plank in Ram’s new global strategy, in which the brand will dedicate more engineering space to markets outside America.
And that could include producing the Dakota in left- and right-hand drive from the factory, foregoing the need for the successful remanufacturing process that currently takes place through Ram Trucks Australia and Walkinshaw in Melbourne.
When asked if the Dakota would be offered in left- and right-hand drive from the factory, Mr Koval replied: “It would always be the idea”.
“When I got to the brand in 2016, I would say 96 percent of the engineering focus was on North America. That’s changing. Every new vehicle, starting with the (Ram 1500 REV), and everything beyond it, I will make it international in scope. Or I’ll try to.”
So, onto the name. While Dakota is reportedly firming, Mr Koval says no decision has been made on what the truck would be called.
"Obviously the Dakota name carries a lot of heritage. It's very special to us. I'll say if and when, we'll see. At the moment it's not, because it's just in concept phase. But we'll see," Mr Koval says.
"I will say this - we've been talkling about it forever. This is the Ram leadership team that is going to execute. We will be the team that delivers it."