- Jeep is considering adding a Wrangler-based pickup truck to its product portfolio, Edmunds has learned.
- Jeep's CEO wants a Wrangler pickup; 2017 is the possible target date.
- The pickup would be designed for lifestyle-oriented activities and limited commercial applications.
CHICAGO — If Jeep CEO Michael Manley has his way, Jeep will be offering a Wrangler-based pickup in a few years, possibly four.
"I am convinced there is a market," said Manley in an interview with Edmunds at the 2013 Chicago Auto . "I think if we were going to do it, the appropriate time would be the model changeover of Wrangler."
The redesigned Wrangler was expected to debut around 2015. However, the vehicle plan described to analysts recently by the Chrysler Group places the debut of an unnamed redesigned model, presumably the Wrangler, in 2017.
Manley said the pickup envisioned for Jeep would be "a lifestyle-oriented pickup." It likely would target Wrangler owners who need the functionality that a pickup bed offers, such as carrying an all-terrain vehicle, for example.
Chrysler's Mopar parts group offers a conversion package to turn a Wrangler into a pickup truck. The parts package costs about $5,500 not including the cost for labor.
Manley said a Wrangler-based pickup would be sold globally and would be engineered to handle some commercial applications in the United States, the Middle East, Africa and possibly Australia. For example, models could be equipped to carry fire-fighting or logging equipment in forest areas.
However, a Wrangler pickup would not be engineered to compete toe-to-toe with Ram pickups in North America, he said, nor globally with those commercial pickups that are "low-cost of ownership workhorses." In particular, a Wrangler pickup would not be engineered to carry what he described as a metric ton (2,205 pounds).
Manley said the automaker still needs to determine if it has the resources to approve production.
"We will tackle that hurdle when it comes up," he said.
Another issue might be a production site. Although Manley did not address the issue, the Toledo, Ohio, plant that assembles the current Wrangler is having a difficult time keeping up with demand for two- and four-door models. Jeep sold nearly 142,000 Wranglers last year, a 16 percent increase over 2011. Sales jumped 12 percent last month, compared with January 2012. The plant might need to be expanded if a pickup is approved.
Talk of a Jeep Wrangler pickup truck calls to mind such concept vehicles as the Jeep Gladiator, which debuted at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show. At the time, Jeep called the truck a "lifestyle pickup." It featured an open-air canvas roof, removable doors and a fold-down windshield. It was called "an authentic statement of Jeep brand heritage that explores what shape and features a modern Jeep pickup might have," according to a Chrysler statement.
Edmunds says: A pickup seems like a logical extension of the Wrangler line. But if Wrangler sales remain strong, finding a production site may be an issue.