Jeep looks as though it wants to steal a slice of the lucrative pickup market pie by possibly introducing a Wrangler-based pickup of its own by 2015.
There have been rumblings for some time regarding the possibility of Jeep producing a pickup version of its Wrangler ever since the company revealed the Gladiator concept at the 2005 Detroit Motor Show, but financial woes and the tumult that lead up to the firm’s eventual acquisition by Fiat has meant that such a project has been placed on the backburner. Until now…
The project is in a relative state of infancy but the president of Jeep’s American arm, Mike Manley, has recently stated that a pickup is being strongly considered.
There are currently two approaches Jeep could take when developing such a model:
The first would be a Wrangler-based vehicle in both two- and four-door layouts similar to the Gladiator concept pictured above. There are, however, concerns surrounding the adoption of a long-wheelbase platform for the four-door. As Manley puts it, "One of the issues is that when you go four-door with a bed is that your break-over angle gets destroyed. We can still maintain approach and departure angles, but when we get to a certain length, the break-over becomes an issue." This could be a serious issue considering Jeep’s reputation for its products off-road ability.
Another option is to steer development away from the Wrangler-based option by adopting an all-new (possibly Fiat-sourced) platform. “The new generation of platforms that we are working on with Fiat are very, very versatile platforms,” said Manley. “I can see the opportunity in the future to bring a pick-up off a platform that has enough global volume so that we can build a genuine pick-up, in right-hand drive and left-hand drive.” If this were the case, the pickup’s design would be distinctly different from that of the Wrangler but will adopt such signature styling cues as the seven-slot grille to give it something of a Jeep identity.
This won’t be the first time that Jeep has turned its arm at producing a pickup. The original Gladiator pickup, which was base on the company’s Wagoneer estate/SUV, emerged on the US market back in 1963 and was followed by the limited-run CJ8 Scrambler pickup in 1982.
Jeep is expected to make a final decision on whether or not to launch a pickup in the next couple of months.