By on October 24, 2014

2015-jeep-wrangler

The fate of where the next-gen Jeep Wrangler will be assembled may have been settled, thanks to the fact that there will be no unibody Wrangler anytime soon.

Automotive News reports sources from inside and outside Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have stated the 2017 Wrangler will remain body-on-frame, meaning the Toledo, Ohio plant responsible for the icon’s production won’t see it head elsewhere for now.

As for going aluminum to help make weight in the CAFE fuel economy competition, CEO Sergio Marchionne says it’s still a possibility for the next Wrangler to use the metal so long as production costs are manageable, which may also mean trouble still for 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.

Further, the switchover would stop Wrangler production completely — the Toledo plant, which is already operating above capacity, is the only plant where Wranglers are made — eating away at both dealer inventory and corporate profits. The current forecast shows 235,000 units leaving Ohio by the end of 2014, the third consecutive year of record high production.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

66 Comments on “2017 Jeep Wrangler To Remain Body-On-Frame...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Well, that’s a relief Toledo is spared, but wait… Aluminum

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Aluminum is all about better mpg from weight reduction, no?

      Was there ever a Wrangler sale nixed because of crappy fuel economy? Is aluminim then only about fleet average mpg?

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        “Was there ever a Wrangler sale nixed because of crappy fuel economy?”

        Of course there are. Conquest sales for the Wrangler aren’t to hard-core offroaders (who allegedly buy used anyway). They are to individuals and families that need to justify the expense.

        Reading between the lines, it sounds like the Wrangler will leave Toledo because of limited production capacity. FCA has already stated that they will build no new plants in North America, so it will probably be replaced by a lower-volume product.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          “Conquest sales for the Wrangler”

          Conquered from what? Airport tugs?

          Although I would give my blessing to any family small enough to fit in a 2-door Wrangler.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Pete,

            Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but sales of the Wrangler have shot-up in the past 10 years. It’s now a mainstream product purchased by regular folks with families and limited monthly budgets.

            They also have a very popular four door “Unlimited” model. Look it up.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            I haven’t noticed much.

            I live in a carefully crafted time warp. We even have a spankin’ new Village Hall where we can go to vote.

        • 0 avatar
          mikeg216

          The cherokee and wrangler production lines are running flat out there is zero spare capacity. The plant is surrounded by all necessary suppliers, fca has a billion dollar property. The wrangler is the most profitable vehicle they sell, there is no zero percent. And the best deal you can hope to negotiate is 0$ over sticker price. Fca is just angling for tax credits and financing to expand for the renegade and gladiator, how do you think they plan on doubling jeep sales? Filling all the niches.

      • 0 avatar
        zerofoo

        If they want to increase their fleet average, Jeep should offer a REASONABLY priced diesel option.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      You missed my point, Toledo has been concerned about losing Jeep. Sergio has been gaming that concern for a little leverage. Now comes the news that because BOF Toledo is safe… Unless of course Sergio decides to go Aluminum. Toledo is now back to being gamed

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    Depends on if it’s the body or the frame that’s going aluminum, or both. It’s much easier to repair trail damage if your working with steel.

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      It’s unlikely you’ll see aluminum on a wrangler until the chassis becomes a unitized aluminum tub (Unibody). There isn’t much to be gained by reworking the body as aluminum, and an aluminum frame wouldn’t likely work in crash tests.

      Crumple zones and unibody will come to the wrangler in time. Cherokees and Grand Cherokees are pretty good off-roaders and they have a unibody chassis.

      Still, I’m glad my next Jeep will be a body on frame wrangler.

      • 0 avatar
        Pig_Iron

        (Hands over ears) La-La-La – I can’t hear yooou…
        Please stop reminding us of the inevitable. Anyway, it will have to be one heck of an aluminum body design to direct all those loads in a crash. I wonder if it will look like a short squat C101, or XJ?

      • 0 avatar
        eamiller

        Tell that to Ford. The new F150 is aluminum body on steel frame…

      • 0 avatar
        carve

        Freightliner has been using aluminum frame rails for decades.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @zerofoo

        Ford would seem to disagree with you about aluminum bodies on steel frames being worthwhile. I do realize that a Jeep has a lot less body than an F-150, but you still need to take what you can get.

        Though my thought is will reducing the weight a few hundred pounds really make a difference in a vehicle with the drag coefficient of a clipper ship? Though I suppose at such low starting mpg numbers, every little bit helps.

        • 0 avatar
          mikeg216

          California is doing their part by buying as man battery powered Fiat’s so fca can goose the numbers to keep making the box wrangler

        • 0 avatar
          anti121hero

          The thing with these jeeps is that you can tune the motor and upgrade this and play with gears all you want and you’ll still get atrocious mpg. It has the aerodynamics of a barn.

          • 0 avatar
            mikeg216

            So does the f-150 quad cab 4×4 26 mpg with the new 2.7 Eco boost and the ram diesel 1500 is @ 28 mpg right now the “feared” Cafe target mpg are being met today.

      • 0 avatar
        anti121hero

        I’ve owned at least one of all, I’m currently driving an old zj grand with well over 200000 miles on it, and while I had a lifted cherokee as a toy I have to say the wrangler is just tough and still completely different. I’d rather see that stay as a BOF. Although I love the old cherokee just the same, they are two different vehicles at heart.

        • 0 avatar
          mikeg216

          Absolutely, I’ve owned several zj and xj my daily driver is a 97 grand cherokee limited orvis edition with full time 4x4and the 318, I’d kill for 28 mpg that’s twice my average mpg

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        “…There isn’t much to be gained by reworking the body as aluminum, and an aluminum frame wouldn’t likely work in crash tests.”

        The new F-150 says otherwise. Guess we’ll see.

  • avatar
    Micah

    I don’t know what the big deal is about tooling up for aluminum bodies.

    You can buy a new full aluminum replacement body tub for a Jeep CJ from Quadratec for around $4k. It shouldn’t be an insurmountable hurdle for Chrysler to tool up for something like that, if a little company can hand build them in low volume and still offer them that cheaply. Engineering for crash-worthiness shouldn’t be hard, and hey, if they got rid of all of the compound curves of the JK, they could stamp the things out in no time, and it’d look like a proper Jeep again too!

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      I don’t think the aluminum body is the deal breaker. If jeep moves to aluminum, it will probably be a unibody setup instead of body on frame.

      This would reduce the weight of the wrangler significantly as you combine body on frame and at the same time go to aluminum instead of steel.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      The problem is that aluminum requires all-new tooling, machinery, production processes and even production environment. It’s also very sensitive to contamination.
      That’s easy enough to handle in a new (or completely re-built) factory, but it can’t be done economically in the current factory that’s already running flat-out. They would need to shut-down for months, which could cost them a billion or more in lost sales.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        It’s especially a problem because, unlike Ford, FCA doesn’t have two plants turning out Wranglers. Rouge was shut down for a month and had people working 24 hours a day the whole time to get it up and running. In order to build up volume, Ford had been running balls out for the last six months churing out 70 trucks an hour 7 days a week for about the six months leading up to the shut down.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    I would think the drivetrain would be the first place to start when looking to improve fuel economy. Offer a couple 4-cylinders, one gas, one diesel. Lower weight will improve city mileage, but you’re still pushing a brick through the air, so highway isn’t going to improve.

    • 0 avatar
      rockets

      Exactly. Sprinkle in some hi-strength steel or aluminum parts where feasible, tweak the aerodynamics (OK, not much to work with), maybe the smaller Pentastar V-6 and the four cylinders mentioned, Mr. Fusion, whatever.

  • avatar
    TW5

    No more talk of aluminum Wranglers with unibody construction. Get together with the unions and the other manufacturers and march on Capitol Hill until you get a special exemption for light trucks with at least 1 solid axle. Trucks and off-road vehicles should be put in the most lenient footprint category, which still requires 23mpg EPA by 2025. It’s not an easy target, but it won’t upend the offroad/SUV segment, either.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Why not offer both, the current wrangler is selling as fast as they’re made, if a new aluminum that costs more can’t outsell the steel version, you’ll know it was good you didn’t go all the way.

    Of course it’s staying BoF, else jeep would have nothing to remind people they’re an offroad brand, look at the rest of the offering, not a semblance of offroad performance.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Personally I wouldn’t take down a profit center to experiment with a new design. Either there will be another plant used for an aluminum Wrangler, or FCA will use another model.

  • avatar
    carve

    Perhaps they should leave the Wrangler as it is, but offer another light-weight, more aerodynamic vehicle with similar off-road capabilities. I’d like to see a turbo-4 designed for low-rpm torque and a high power to weight ratio. The lighter, less powerful engine is possible with the lighter body, and those will allow a lighter drivetrain, which allows for a lighter frame (or unibody), suspension and wheels, leaving performance similar to what you had before.

  • avatar

    People keep assuming that unibody saves weight, but it is just not so. Wrangler is lighter than the “new” unibody Pathfinder, which has independent suspension also. Please take a moment to reconcile yourself with the fact that unibody and independent suspensions save you absolutely nothing in modern automobiles.

    I am open to a suggestion that unibody would improve Wranglers crashworthiness and perhaps reduce the cabin noise levels.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    When it comes down to altering the characteristics that keep consumers coming back, you just pay the CAFE fines. Something like $120 per truck, eaten or passed on to buyers. No big.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Remember your first time in a real Jeep? You had a couple of buddies who took you out rockhopping? Or maybe it was that one summer at the end of high school when you borrowed the older brother’s CJ to take your sweetheart camping? Or maybe it was your first vehicle out of college. You forget the frigid winters and terrible on-road ride, but you’ll always remember the sense of adventure that awaited you every weekend.

    Yeah, that’s not today’s Wrangler. What we have today is a 4 door commuter vehicle that weighs double what it used to. And while Jeep trots out all these statistics about how their buyers take their Jeeps off road, for most of them, that means the gravel between the median on the way to the mall.

    The reason we are talking about unit body and aluminum is that the thing is so freakin’ huge today. Loaded with all manner of electronic doodads and motors to make the morning commute all comfy. Too wide for many trails; too heavy to be any fun.

    Isn’t that the issue?

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      “Yeah, that’s not today’s Wrangler. What we have today is a 4 door commuter vehicle that weighs double what it used to.”

      And yet you can still buy one in 2 doors and a 6 speed. Imagine that…they’re not all 4 doors!

      It’s larger and heavier yes. I’d rather be in a new one when it crashes though.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Amazing…Someone still builds an offroad oriented vehicle with BOF, a solid front axle, and available locking differentials and people still find a way to complain.

        I am more of an import guy with my offroad stuff but I could head down to my Nissan or Toyota dealer with a million bucks in hand and not drive away in a vehicle described above. My Land Cruiser is a bloated pig with an IFS nowadays and unlikely to fit down a trail. All of the other offerings are IFS with a rear locker at best.

        The XTerra can be had with some offroad chops, but no where near a Rubicon. I would like to build a GX470 but I’d spend waaay more than for a Jeep.

        Kudos to Jeep for keeping the formula alive. No it isn’t a 79 CJ anymore. Thank God. Yes most never see offroad duty until several owners down the line, but does the fact that Hummer’s H1 likely has leather and power everything take anything away from the H1’s I rolled around Iraq in and would stop 7.62 rounds? The Jeep is still a solid offroader, period.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      It’s larger heavier hauls more stuff carries more people rides better the ac is great the heat is great she still goes topless and door less and yes you can fold the windshield down yet it has a 1200 Watt soundsystem to rock out while rock hopping and after spending a weekend in the woods getting her dirty you can hose her out and drive clients around on Monday, I’ve had them all the cj sucked, it was like driving a gas powered wooden wagon with square wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      My first ride in a Jeep was with my buddy to diagnose the grinding in his AX-5 transmission as terminal.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    Wrangler is a toy, not a need. And who needs it? Sorry, Toledo.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Need vs want.

      The majority of the people don’t NEED a truck. Heck the majority of the people don’t need anything larger than a 5 door hatch.

      Want is what sells, not needs.

  • avatar
    Timtoolman

    Having owned a CJ-7 I know how fast these used to rust, especially in Buffalo. Now that I’m in the deep south, it’s not such a concern, but I will be buying one in the coming month or two. First: Body-on-frame s the only way to go. Eventually, all you’ll have for BOF is the Xterra and Wrangler, and maybe a Toyota. Someone has to keep the faith. Second: I think aluminum maybe the next best thing for the Wrangler. So…if both plants are beyond capacity, AND are the only BOF plants they have, I suggest building a NEW BOF plant in Toledo for the new aluminum Wrangler, then convert the old plant to additional capacity for the Ram 1500’s and maybe even a Scrambler.

    Yay! Everyone WINS!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    FCA will have a one big issue with the full chassis Wrangler….. weight.

    I can see only the long wheel base version along with a small diesel.

    It would have to be constructed of high tensile steel as well.

    It’s how all of a sudden aluminium is all the rage. I remember when many day to day consumer goods had turbo somewhere in their name.

    Aluminium can give up to 40% savings in weight over conventional bodies, high tensile steel 35%.

    Maybe FCA might go down the high tensile steel track. It’s a lot cheaper.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @BAFO -Drag coefficient is its biggest problem. Weight not so much.

      As if it’s its chute is always pulled. Or always going uphill, at least at hwy speeds. But a unibody would help smooth out the turbulence underneath.

      A diesel would be more trouble/expense than its worth.

  • avatar
    colin42

    A friend who works at Chrysler tells me that the next wrangler won’t be aluminum due to expected insurance rates to fix an Al car.

    Personally I don’t see an Al body to be an issue. The Land rover Defender has been this way for ~30 years

  • avatar
    05lgt

    All this means is Sergio expects the citizens of Toledo and Ohio to pay for the retooling required if Al is the answer. If not, he’ll take it it somewhere more fully subsidized. Just like every one else. Pimping the workers taxable paychecks in exchange for tax free operation and publicly funded capital equipment. We da ho’s.

  • avatar

    I just partook in Fords “built ford tough 3” thing today on the 2015 F150. Some of the things I really liked (but question how long will be around) is the modular build they did. In order to counter increased body repair cost with the higher part price, they reduced repair labor by designing the truck to be much more modular. *nods head*. If Jeep did the same thing, the body shouldn’t be a huge concern. Lets not forgot they didn’t make a 1996 Wrangler, so it’s not impossible to over build one year and then speed up on the new line. I also was happy to see an improved frame with less reliance on the body. This speaks to the strength of full frames. No matter what, it will be better than an 80’s CJ, and yet I and most other jeepers will still drool over the idea of bringing back such a simple vehicle. I like the future of Alcoa stock.

  • avatar

    I think plastic would be a better choice for a Jeep body than aluminum.
    Amazing new chemistries and molding technologies these days.

    I Just hope they keep the live axle up front, or at least the option to have one.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Interesting….make it body colored all the way through to hide the trail rash or cover said plastic in some of that flexible epoxy bedliner stuff. The bottom of my Land Cruiser was covered in monstaliner after I ripped the fender flares off and it was pretty stout and would flex.

      Only issue is IIRC with Saturns the spaceframe + polymer body were actually heavier than a comparibly sized steel unibody vehicle.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The standard military Jeep from 1959 through 1982 was unibody with front rear independent suspension:

    “The Truck, Utility, l/4-Ton, 4×4, M151 (M151 ) was the successor to the Korean War M38 and M38A1 jeep Light Utility Vehicles. Commonly referred to as a ‘jeep’ or ‘quarter-ton’, it was produced from 1959 through 1982 and served in the Vietnam War. The M151 had a monocoque design making it roomier than previous jeep designs, and incorporated an independent suspension with coil springs.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M151_Truck,_Utility,_l/4-Ton,_4x4

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • el scotto: @Dartdude Our Federal Government, thankfully, is not like Apple computer corporation. I have an iPhone 3...
  • el scotto: @SCE to Aux; I can think of three stand-alone Cadillac dealers. Lockhart Cadillac in Greenwood and Fishers...
  • Ol Shel: You should choose a car from a company that’s never had a recall, like: Nash, Duesenberg, Datsun,...
  • RHD: That’s a lot of money to put on the line for such a silly bet. Truth be told, ICE vehicles will be slowly...
  • DenverMike: The old fogeys say that. It assumes the grade coming up the mountain is the same one going down. Or...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber