Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Next Wrangler Will be Partially Aluminum

Automotive News and Car and Driver are reporting the latest update from FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne on the future of the Jeep Wrangler JK's replacement.  Regular readers will recall that I have discussed the construction material and assembly location quite a few times already.  Marchionne's comments indicate that the Wrangler's going exactly the direction for which everyone's hoping:
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.
This likely means a steel ladder frame and body tub, while the fenders, hood, doors, tailgate, roll cage, windshield frame, and other add-on body parts will be made from aluminum.  Reading between the lines, Marchionne is stating that this combination of alloys will provide the best cost/benefit ratio, as the Wrangler is a low- to midrange vehicle that is both in dire need of improved fuel economy and the retention of its benchmark-setting offroad performance.  The definitive Jeep must meet certain government-mandated requirements without compromising its appeal to the core enthusiast market, or else the "Wrangler magic" will be lost and the vehicle's reputation and desirability will suffer tremendously.

Much to the relief of patriotic Jeep brand fans and the people of the Toledo Assembly Plant, this will also likely mean that Toledo, Ohio will continue to be the home of the Wrangler.

Jeep has been hinting at a "lightweighting" of the Wrangler for years, most conspicuously with the 2013 concept Wrangler Stitch that they exhibited at the Moab Easter Jeep Safari.  This was a follow-up and expansion to the 2011 concept Wrangler Pork Chop that was exhibited two years prior at the Jeep Safari.  These concepts prove that a lightweight Wrangler can certainly still meet the performance benchmarks of a proper Wrangler.

2013 Wrangler Stitch
2011 Wrangler Pork Chop


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