America’s most old-school truck is sticking with steel.
Jeep considered switching the next-generation Wrangler to a lightweight aluminum body to improve fuel efficiency and capability, similar to Ford’s recent move with the F-150 pickup, but after running the numbers, has decided against it.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said they’d simulated the mileage, “but because of the difference in costs, not just in materials but the actual assembly process, I think we can do almost as well without aluminum,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
The new Wrangler is expected to hit the street (and rocks) in 2017 as a 2018 model. The current model has a combined fuel economy rating of 18 mpg, one of the lowest in the industry today. Whenever he’s discussed the development of the new version, Jeep CEO Mike Manley has insisted that whatever changes are made will not be allowed to compromise its off-road prowess.
But while the body of the Wrangler will remain primarily steel, it’s likely that the lighter material will be used on some of the vehicle’s less stressed parts, like the door panels, fenders and hood, according to Automotive News. Many trucks today employ this sort of mixed materials construction, including the Ram 1500, which features an aluminum hood.
As for where it will be built, that's still up in the air. An all-aluminum body would have almost certainly required a move from Jeep's traditional home in Toledo, Ohio, but a steel body keeps the current factory in the running. A final decision is expected this year.
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