A Ghost Reportedly Dies, Jeep and Ford Smile

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Can you kill a ghost? While Hollywood and some Catholic priests say yes, in the automotive realm the process of ridding oneself of a spectre usually involves a new sheet on the drawing board, not a ceremonial ritual.

As you may have already heard, a ghost long rumored to haunt Detroit’s future product stable has reportedly disappeared into the ether from which it came. It never had much of a form, its name carried a question mark, and no one officially admitted to its existence. It only had a clear rival: the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and upcoming Ford Bronco.

If you’ve concluded that we’re talking about that hazy GMC model, you’re bang on. Despite assurances from brand execs that General Motors’ truck brand had no intention of launching a body-on-frame rival to Jeep’s quintessential off-roader, just enough evidence of its development existed to keep the rumor alive.

Earlier this month, Muscle Cars & Trucks, citing GM sources, claimed that the BOF off-roader program died as a result of last November’s cost-cutting measures. That slash job spelled the end for several North American manufacturing plants and a handful of passenger car models. The publication claimed the program’s death came not from a widespread dislike of the Wrangler/Bronco rival idea, but the decision to move away from an all-new platform for the next-generation Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon midsize pickups.

Backing up the report, at least to some degree, is this quote from LMC Automotive’s president of global forecasting, Jeff Schuster. “We have also heard rumblings that the vehicle may have been canceled but so far have not been able to confirm that,” he told Automotive News.

Schuster added that, “If it was canceled, it may speak to the cost pressure automakers are under and the proliferation of the SUV/CUV body style.”

Surely at GM the only concern would be the former, not the latter. Chevrolet just reintroduced the Blazer and TrailBlazer nameplates, and Buick will debut the Encore GX to slot above the Encore early next year. Granted, these models aren’t market-limited niche offerings. While the automaker lacks a non-pickup off-roader, ongoing belt-tightening and an almost guaranteed revenue bump from its new crossover introductions begs the question “why bother?”

GM remains silent as to the whether the Wrangler/Bronco rival program existed, or whether the hazy future might somehow hold just such a vehicle. If this ghost was indeed killed, one wonders why the automaker was seen benchmarking two Wrangler Unlimiteds at its Milford Proving Ground earlier this year.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon