AM General Wants to Re-enlist Jeep With Gladiator XMT
Jeep and AM General are joining forces to build a military-spec pickup, drafting the Gladiator into active duty. Though we suppose this is more of a reunion than a team-up, as both companies (and their most iconic models) owe their existence to Kaiser Jeep and Willys — if you go back far enough.
Called the Gladiator XMT (Extreme Military-Grade Truck), the concept exists so AM General can address its need for a new light tactical vehicle. Apparently impressed with the civilian model’s off-road prowess and tow ratings, the manufacturer reached out to Fiat Chrysler to see what could be done with the 4×4. The duo plan to shop the XMT around to militaries around the world, but claim their chief concern remains its suitability for those marching (er… driving) under the American flag.
The partnership makes a lot of sense for Jeep, allowing it to tap directly into its special history with the military. It might even make a good alternative to the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (aka HMMWV/Humvee) in specific circumstances. AM General would certainly have to think so, since it’s planning on selling both.
Nimbleness would be the Gladiator XMT’s most obvious advantage, but it should also cost significantly less to procure. While no standard price for military-spec Humvees exists, outfitting them for combat duty can easily push them to well over $220,000 a pop. Oshkosh Defense’s quite large Joint Light Tactical Vehicle costs over twice that and is moving in to partially replace the HMMWV within America’s armed forces — potentially making additional room for a utilitarian dune hopper like the Gladiator XMT.
Most similarly-sized light utility vehicles currently in service with the U.S. military are highly specialized, allowing the XMT to take on a more generic role as a light strike vehicle. It may also be better suited to dense urban environments where ultra-wide vehicles like an armored-up Humvee can have trouble navigating. Not that we’d presume to know what’s best for the armed services. Nor can AM General, which is probably why it previewed the model filling multiple roles — everything from general transport or command vehicle to a mobile refrigerator.
As with the HMMWV, AM General wants to be able to “apply its manufacturing and engineering expertise to convert the Gladiator XMT into mission-specific and purposeful light-weight tactical trucks based on customer requirements.” Yet the base platform won’t be much different than any Gladiator you’ll find in a Jeep dealership — just beefed up with less-brash paint jobs. When questioned on specifics, the company said to assume XMTs will come with upgraded suspensions, improved rollover protection, an optional 12,000-pound winch, various armor configurations, super-durable interiors, and accessories suitable for whatever role they’re given.
AM General has yet to release any specs, but listed the civilian model’s 7,650 pounds of towing and (up to) 1,600 pounds of payload capacity as highly desirable. If the government is inclined to agree, production of diesel XMTs could begin in the second half of 2020. While we can’t be sure that engine will be the new 3.0-liter V6 Jeep plans on offering by year’s end, it seems probable.
[Images: AM General]
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