Ask Nathan: Small Jeep Pickup, Journalistic EV Hype or Hate, and – Totally Unique & Cheap Project Car?

Image: TFLtruck

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Will we see a small Jeep pickup like the Ford Maverick?
  • Journalist either praising or vilifying EVs?
  • I want am inexpensive, unique, cheap to run project car!

The first question comes from a fan who wants an update on the possibility that Stellantis will build a small Jeep pickup like the Maverick and Santa Cruz.

Q: (via YouTube) After seeing the hype behind the Ford Maverick (& Hyundai Santa Cruz), will they build a small Jeep pickup to compete?


  • Saleh

A: It’s interesting to note that there was a small Jeep pickup developed as a drivable concept back in 2016 – and we got to play with it.

I’m sure that there was a lot of discussion, back when Stellantis was still FCA, about the feasibility of production. Not only that, but FCA was actively testing several Fiat-derived pickups like the Strada in the U.S. for some time. We’ve seen a lot of potential with these and other small pickups from the automaker, but nothing happened.

I’m guessing that part of it had to do with the idea of selling Americans a car-based, or unibody-based pickup in a world of hardcore, frame-based pickup truck lovers. At the time, only Honda had the guts to build something like that – and it’s not a massive seller. Despite that, other automakers have seen the potential of this market, and the Maverick, along with the Santa Cruz are now successes.

In other words – FCA/Stellantis could have scored an early hit. Maybe.

Ah, but there IS some hope. Here’s a quote from about four months ago:

A report out of Brazil from Auto Segredos (translated), picked up by CarBuzz, claims the U.S. is going to get a baby Ram pickup. The outlet was part of a group of local car media speaking to Antonio Filosa, president of Stellantis South America. Filosa’s big announcement was that there’d be a new Ram 1200 truck for our neighbors in the next hemisphere, part of a product onslaught involving 16 new models and 26 revised models over the next three years. The key Auto Segredos line for us is, “The pickup will also be sold in the American market to face the Ford Maverick.” If it’s true, then this is enormous news.


Check out the full Autoblog story (here).

If Filosa is right, a small pickup truck is being developed right now for our market; but – will it be a small Jeep pickup?

That is a tough call based on the requirement for all Jeep products to have off-road chops. Sure, the Renegade and Compass (along with the Grand Wagoneer) can’t bang boulders like a Wrangler, but they can still handle some rough stuff. Any small Jeep pickup sold alongside the macho Jeep Gladiator must have some grit.

I have a suspicion: with the development of an all-new PHEV platform, like the upcoming Dodge Hornet PHEV, and Alfa Romeo Tonale, don’t be too surprised to see this platform underpin a ton of Stellantis vehicles.

We expect to hear more from Stellantis in the (very) near future.


Tesla Cop Car

The next question comes from an old friend who works as a journalist for a trade paper, and covers world politics. She’s bothered by the political subtext she’s seeing with automotive journalists in the United States.

Q: (Paraphrased from a conversation) Doesn’t it bother readers and viewers to see that even automotive journalists have used their trade to push their political ideals?

It’s on both sides. All sides, I should say. Rather than talk about the product and give the consumer the advice they’re looking for, they get pounded with unprofessional political garbage.

I’m not just talking about some obscure blogger who’s against a brand, I’m talking about people who are viewed by millions. Some are very well known, including jurors from NACOTY, WCA, MPG and various magazines. Lots of video and social media personalities too, but these judges are supposed to be beyond reproach.

One example I can give you is the “journalist” who insists on showing viewers massive lines for Tesla superchargers. It’s always under the pretext of, “this is how bad EVs are.” As if all EV charging stations are like that. More importantly, there are still many of Teslas out there that have been grandfathered into free unlimited supercharging. Meaning, they have to get their free charge from a Tesla station.

On the other side of the coin, there’s another “journalist” who berates anyone who owns a pickup truck or SUV. They post false claims that these vehicles cause cancer in Malaysian ducks, or some such nonsense. They act as if everyone has to get a Leaf – or face utter extension.

There are many others out there. Do you think that I am being too worried about your audience, or am I being too thin skinned?

  • E.L.

A: You’re not wrong, but…

I caught myself a few times jumping after people who post erroneous assumptions, or blatant lies on social media. Recently, I did it again with a nutjob who insisted that we should have an engine that gets over 100 mpg by simply using a unique carburetor. Supposedly, the U.S. government had the inventor killed.

I’ve heard that urban tale too.

Other times, I’ve corrected folks who absolutely hate EVs – and use bull—t stories to back up their bull—t claims. A report was posted about a Tesla police car running out of range during a pursuit. The author used the headline without reading the article which stated that the vehicle wasn’t adequately charged that day. Stupid facts


The thing is: we, at TFL Studios try our absolute best to stay away from the political fray. We try to keep everything centered on what we know about the vehicle, or the automaker we’re reporting on. At times, politics and world events send shockwaves through the automotive industry. When that happens, we report the facts.

We have no agenda, no media company that holds the purse strings, and we are totally independent.

Sure, we hate to see automotive journalists use their position to influence people with lies and miss-information. It sucks. Hopefully, their audience and the organizations they represent will see through their crap, and put a stop to it. Fortunately, most automotive journalists take their job seriously, and forego the politics.

I still believe there is such a thing as journalistic integrity, even for lowly automotive journalists.

… at least, most of us.


The last question comes from a fan who wants an inexpensive project car that’s super unique.

Image: General Motors

Q: (Via Twitter@NathanAdlen) Lay it on me Gonga!

If you had very little scratch and you wanted a fun project car with a softtop. What would you do? No VDubs or Jeeps or obvious things. Something different and easy.

Margus Ami

Speaking of oddball cars – watch the video above!

1991 Geo Metro Convertible | Alden Jewell | Flickr
Image: General Motors

A: Funny thing happened just the other day, I saw a Geo Metro convertible and I thought, “Well, that’s something you just don’t see anymore!”

I know, it’s an oddball, but it is unique and parts are mighty inexpensive! I bet the readers have a few suggestions!


You guys need to see what our new adventure is!