Jeep Wrangler JK Production Ends Friday; Model Will Cheerfully and Capably Dig Its Own Grave
Amid all the hoopla surrounding the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL, you’d be forgiven for not realizing there are still versions of the old model rolling off Jeep’s Toledo assembly line. But not for long.
Assembly of the Wrangler JK, introduced for the 2007 model year, carried on alongside its updated near-twin after the JL entered production last November, but that line grinds to a halt on Friday, April 27th. The model isn’t wanted anymore, and there’s an awfully lucrative vehicle that needs the space.
If you’re interested in reading a condensed history of the third-generation Wrangler — a model born at a troubled time, but one which turned the Wrangler into a respected resident of upper middle class neighborhoods across North America — Automotive News‘ Larry Vellequette penned a good one earlier today.
The Wrangler JK, especially in four-door Unlimited guise, helped more than any other vehicle in making Jeep FCA’s most valuable brand. Even the Chinese can’t wrestle it away from CEO Sergio Marchionne’s grasp. After adding a family-friendly four-door to the mix, Wrangler sales instantly soared — from roughly 65,000-80,000 annual units in the years preceding the JK’s launch to 119,243 in 2007. The JK crested the 200,000 mark in 2015.
Over the course of production, the Unlimited model overtook the two-door in sales, with its current volume now double that of its shorter-wheelbase sibling. With so many families getting into Wranglers — families who undoubtedly have a unibody car or crossover as a second vehicle — as much driving refinement and interior modernization as possible went into the JK’s successor. Improvements in curb weight, aerodynamic drag, and fuel economy were also top of mind.
Once the JK clears out of Toledo, Jeep will embark on a months-long retooling effort. Replacing the old model is one which will surely carry the largest price tag of any Wrangler: the Wrangler pickup, aka the Scrambler. The four-door model rides atop a stretched Unlimited frame and starts production late this year. As far as we know, customers will be able to choose an optional diesel V6 engine and soft top, making this model both capable and fun. It’ll be a hit at cupcake [s]shops[/s] shoppes in gentrifying neighborhoods everywhere.
Availability starts in 2019.
[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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- Lou_BC "Owners of affected Wrangles" Does a missing "r" cancel an extra stud?
- Slavuta One can put a secret breaker that will disable the starter or spark plug supply. Even disabling headlights or all lights will bring more trouble to thieves than they wish for. With no brake lights, someone will hit from behind, they will leave fingerprints inside. Or if they steal at night, they will have to drive with no lights. Any of these things definitely will bring attention.I remember people removing rotor from under distributor cup.
- Slavuta Government Motors + Government big tech + government + Federal police = fascist surveillance state. USSR surveillance pales...
- Johnster Another quibble, this time about the contextualization of the Thunderbird and Cougar, and their relationship to the prestigious Continental Mark. (I know. It's confusing.) The Thunderbird/Mark IV platform introduced for the 1971 model year was apparently derived from the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform (also introduced for the 1971 model year), but should probably be considered different from it.As we all know, the Cougar shared its platform with the Ford Mustang up through the 1973 model year, moving to the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform for the 1974 model year. This platform was also shared with the failed Ford Gran Torino Elite, (introduced in February of 1974, the "Gran Torino" part of the name was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 model years).The Thunderbird/Mark series duo's separation occurred with the 1977 model year when the Thunderbird was downsized to share a platform with the LTD II/Cougar. The 1977 model year saw Mercury drop the "Montego" name and adopt the "Cougar" name for all of their mid-sized cars, including plain 2-doors, 4-doors and and 4-door station wagons. Meanwhile, the Cougar PLC was sold as the "Cougar XR-7." The Cougar wagon was dropped for the 1978 model year (arguably replaced by the new Zephyr wagon) while the (plain) 2-door and 4-door models remained in production for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It was a major prestige blow for the Thunderbird. Underneath, the Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 for 1977 were warmed-over versions of the failed Ford Elite (1974-1976), while the Mark V was a warmed-over version of the previous Mark IV.
- Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.
"The model isn’t wanted anymore, and there’s an awfully lucrative vehicle that needs the space." Even with +$2500 MSRP pricing, it seems likely the per-unit margin on the JK is greater at the moment, while the development costs for JL are amortized. Why else would OEMs continue to produce the previous model for a year or so?
I honestly sort of expected (and genuinely hoped) that they'd continue selling the JK for a while yet as a "Classic/Heritage" or specifically as a "JK" alongside the new one, at a reduced cost obviously. But I suppose that would eat into JL sales in a very big way.