2018 Jeep Wrangler Not Going Fully Aluminum After All
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler will add diesel and an eight-speed automatic to the mix, but a fully aluminum body is no longer on the agenda.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said the upcoming Wrangler would not go the same route as the new Ford F-150, opting instead for specific components — hood, tailgate, doors et al — to be made from the alloy, Automotive News reports. Marchionne said the decision to move away from a fully aluminum model came down to comparison costs, and ease of production:
There will be a large portion of that vehicle that will be aluminum. It will not be all aluminum. We’ve run the numbers and we’ve simulated mileage and the impact. Because of the difference in cost — not just of the material but the actual assembly process — I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminum. I think we can get very close.
Were the 2018 Wrangler to have stayed the course, the Jeep facility in Toledo, Ohio would have needed a complete overhaul to manufacture and assemble the vehicle, following a similar action by Ford with the F-150 at its Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Mich. The Blue Oval invested $843 million to retool the plant and nearby operations, a process taking 10 weeks to undergo; FCA’s new plan would eliminate the need for such action.
[Photo credit: Kamil Kaluski/ The Truth About Cars]
I think this is a happy medium, go after low hanging fruit with the aluminum. Now lets see them figure out how to make balljoints not disintegrate after 40k miles!
I love the way FCA is marketing this new Wrangler. They knew they would have a problem with the Jeep traditionalists (aka: those who don't buy new but badmouth those who do), so they floated a bunch of wild ideas: independent suspension, all-aluminum, jellybean aero, unibody. Now they are progressively scaling-back those ideas through their PR machine, and the traditionalists are happy as pigs in ....mud. I'm convinced the new Wrangler has been locked-off for months. The only reason it isn't coming-out sooner is because FCA still has lots of CAFE credits, and the current tooling is all paid-off (which means huge profits). They may as well run the printing press as long as they can.
The Wrangler is a great seller because it is actually a pretty good value, while you can spend over 40k on one, you can buy a basic model unlimited for under 27k retail.. Not too bad for a trendy 4x4 with 300hp.. Combine that with a fantastic resale and the perception that it is so simple there is nothing to go wrong.. For the future, I could see adopting durable lightweight plastic panels to reduce weight and help fuel economy, in addition I suspect 4 cyl turbo and 9 speed automatics will be adopted. Hopefully a 7 speed manual since people actually buy manual Wranglers..
The changes are not going to be very radical. One area they could really improve would be interior comfort....the seats in my Wrangler are really terrible for a long trip. I think a small amount of aero improvements would be ok, but they if they fuck with the basic design it will only be to Jeep's detriment.