Car News

Jeep Wrangler Ute confirmed for 2020

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has confirmed production plans for three new models, including the Jeep Wrangler Ute, Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.

FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA) has confirmed investment of US$1 billion in two of its plants that would add 2000 jobs to build the Jeep Wrangler Ute, Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. FCA also said the investment would allow it to bring back production of the Dodge RAM from Mexico to the US.

“The conversion of our industrial footprint completes this stage of our transformation as we respond to the shift in consumer tastes to trucks and SUVs, and as we continue to reinforce the U.S. as a global manufacturing hub for those vehicles at the heart of the SUV and truck market,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer of FCA NV.

“These moves, which have been under discussion with Dennis Williams and the rest of the UAW leadership for some time, expand our capacity in these key segments, enabling us to meet growing demand here in the U.S., but more importantly to increase exports of our mid-size and larger vehicles to international markets.

“The expansion of our Jeep lineup has been and continues to be the key pillar of our strategy. Our commitment to internationalize the Jeep brand is unwavering, and with these last moves, we will finally have the capacity to successfully penetrate markets other than the US which have historically been denied product due to capacity constraints. In addition, these all-new products will reach new consumers, as well as those that have been part of the Jeep tradition,” said Marchionne.

Jeep has been talking up its Wrangler ute since last year, when it announced the next-generation Wrangler would launch in 2018. More than that, we can expect to see a hybrid version of the Wrangler by 2022.

While the new Wrangler Ute will be out in 2020, the brand, via Mopar, has also offered a conversion kit called the JK-8 Independence. There are a handful of companies in Australia already offering this conversion, one being Murchison Products in Queensland. The conversion requires a JK Wrangler Unlimited as the base vehicle and around 6-8 weeks for the conversion. All conversions come with compliance plates.

What about the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer? Well, as Marchionne mentioned in his statement to the press, the aim is for Jeep to reach new consumers and that is the luxury SUV set. In an interview with Automotive News last year, Jeep boss, Mike Manley consfirmed the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer would be built on the same platform as the new Grand Cherokee but that they would be totally new vehicles, and not just trim lines.

“The Wagoneer name represents, historically, the pinnacle of premium for the Jeep world,” Manley said. “But in the same way as you may have an Overland and a Summit, you have different trim levels. So you could imagine the use of Wagoneer to denote a really premium vehicle, and Grand Wagoneer takes it to the very next level. If you were to use that as your naming strategy, that’s exactly how I would use the trims.”

Question: Are vehicles like this enough to help Jeep claw back some lost ground in Australia?

  • geolemon

    Mansley can say what he wants as CEO, but these names have traditionally painted very different pictures.
    In his [pick one: inexperience, exuberance, overconfidence], he risks eroding the brand, thinking that his perception of it defines the rest of the world’s perception of it.

    In a politically incorrect way, here’s the way I believe many (most?) in the world identify with those names:
    –Cherokee: The blue-collar, everyday Jeep SUV
    –Grand Cherokee: The white-collar yuppie-mobile for urban-dwellers and suburbanites.
    –Wagoneer: The rural everyday Jeep SUV
    –Grand Wagoneer: The country-Cadillac of the Jeep brand, aimed at the rural affluent.

    Turning the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer into urban Yuppie-mobiles like Land Rovers and Mercedes G-wagons would be aiming at the same demographic as upscale Grand Cherokee buyers, and therefore stealing sales from that model, unless they can create something so luxurious and ludicrously featured that it truly puts a Bentley-sized hyper-SUV sized gap between models…
    …but the point remains, that would be new territory for Jeep. And it would be fundamentally changing the old, existing marketing image of both the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer brands.

    Hey – it’s possible Jeep will launch a hyper-SUV aimed [somehow] specifically at the rural-very-affluent… Something that is “more luxurious” than the top Grand Cherokees, and is perhaps using the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer names to appeal to their very conservative sensibilities – but I doubt we’ll see anything like that. Based on history (and current Jeep/Chrysler ownership) I think we’re far more likely to see something aiming for top-end Land Rovers, but missing the mark in execution.

    Personally, I’d think they’d be far more successful creating a Grand Wagoneer inspired retro-SUV that picks up the same demographic as those who bought Toyota FJ Cruisers… Give it enough interior functionality to pick up stranded Honda Element buyers at the Wagoneer trim level – then they might have something that’s truly differentiated, in a different direction than “more luxury”…
    …functionality vs frivolity.
    I suspect this Jeep CEO thinks his job is to turn Jeep into Cadillac, and that could be tragic, built on frivolity – which isn’t what most people think of when they think Jeep (at least not yet…).

  • FatFreddy’sSkat

    The windshield won’t fold down. How can you go rock-crawling if the windshield won’t fold down?

    • Hi there, the car pictured is the old Wrangler Gladiator concept and not the new Wrangler Ute. – Isaac

  • Wayne Dibbley

    Heh, you didn’t mention the monorail….

    No pictures (it won’t look like that), no specifications, no new engine, nothing. FCA is almost broke but is going to rebuild its entire US infrastructure, and move the only thing it makes money from (Ram) back to the US to lose money on that as well.

    >>Our commitment to internationalize the Jeep brand is unwavering, and with these last moves, we will finally have the capacity to successfully penetrate markets other than the US which have historically been denied product due to capacity constraints.<<

    No lack of capacity in Australia, just a lack of sales.

  • JaiNormosone

    The vehicle looks great to me (just seen another comment that the pic is a concept vehicle) but this doesn’t fix the problem with the people employed by FCA Australia who seemingly refuse to correct problems created by them.

    The vehicle can be everything you pay for but if the after-sales experience is garbage, people who-know-better won’t buy it.

    • Hi JaiNormosone, we’ve been talking with FCA recently and can attest it’s trying to take steps towards improving its customer service. It’s holding meetings with clubs, etc to find out exactly what Jeep owners want. Cheers Isaac

      • JaiNormosone

        It would be good if they did improve that side of the business as many have failed in this country over the years based on hearsay between people at social gatherings. Once the freefall starts, it can be near impossible to reverse.

        It would be good to see another ute out there as there is an ongoing belief that (for example) the Toyota Hilux isn’t the H.o.S. that it really is.

        It would also be nice to be able to buy F-trucks or the Tundra without having to mortgage the house to pay for it.

  • mtbrider

    In am finding that in social discussions on things be it cars or other consumer goods the word ‘Jeep’ or the phrase ‘you bought a Jeep’ is being used colloquially to describe a poor quality purchases i.e a lemon. This is a stigma that is going to be hard to overturn. Who wants to own a vehicle that you have to spend your life defending to strangers and even your mates whenever you are seen driving it. Jeep will have to very carefully think about its pricing structure and customer service contractual guarantees in AU if they want to be taken seriously in this country. Australians are a loyal bunch but don’t take us for fools or you will feel our wrath. If they price the JL Jeeps as a premium product they might as well leave them on the docks in the gold ol’ US of A and save the costs of shipping them back with their tail between their legs when no-one buys them. At worst they need to price match the bargain basement products from Great Wall, Foton and Tata. And lets face it in the eyes of most Aussies, and based on current form, the quality of Jeep is arguably no better and probably worse than the bottom dwellers in the 4wd (ute or otherwise) market. They need to follow the Asian vehicle model of come in cheap and suck it up for 10 to 15 years to build brand trust and then increase prices to current market trends for the premium brands. If this is not done and they come back telling us they are the best thing since sliced bread they will pay a high cost as the market will punish them.

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.