2017 Jeep Wrangler to stay body-on-frame – report
The 2017 Jeep Wrangler will retain its body-on-frame construction despite recent hints by Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne that it would become a unibody vehicle.
ACCORDING TO A report on Automotive News (subscription required), the 2017 Jeep Wrangler will continue its body-on-frame construction and won’t have an aluminium body. This is good news for the workers at Jeep’s Toledo, Ohio factory (the traditional home of the Jeep Wrangler) who were facing potential unemployment after CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Sergio Marchionne hinted the next Wranger would become a unibody vehicle.
Speaking with journalists earlier this month at the Paris Motor Show, Marchionne said the Wrangler’s switch to a unibody would mean manufacturing would have to leave the Toledo plant because it wasn’t able to build an aluminium unibody vehicle without heavy investment in new equipment. Since then, city officials and workers’ union representatives had been in talks with Fiat Chrysler to keep the Wrangler in Toledo.
But, according to Automotive News which claims to have spoken to sources inside and outside the company, manufacturing will remain at Toledo, that the Wrangler will continue as a body-on-frame vehicle even if the body becomes aluminium. It’s believed Fiat Chrysler is keen to make the next Wrangler out of aluminium, but that would mean significant changes to the tooling set-up at Toledo and potential downtime for the factory which would eat into worldwide stocks – the Jeep Wrangler is one of the company’s best sellers and is on track to set a third-consecutive production record of 235,000 vehicles in 2014.
And the quote that set everyone on edge in Toledo: “If the solution is aluminum then I think unfortunately Toledo is the wrong set up to try and build a
Wrangler because it requires a complete, a reconfiguring of the assets which would be cost prohibitive. I mean it would be just be so outrageously expensive for us to try and work out that facility,” in Toledo, Marchionne said.
Discussions around switching the off-roader to aluminium mirrors Ford’s recent move with the 2015 Ford F-150. The difference being that Ford had a number of facilities handling that vehicle’s production whereas Jeep only has one factory producing the Wrangler.
Despite all this, Fiat Chrysler is claiming the 2017 Jeep Wrangler will be the most capable version yet. Stay tuned.