Published January 17, 2013
A Jeep pickup truck?
You asked for it, and you just might get it.
Speaking at the Detroit Auto Show, Jeep President and CEO Mike Manley hinted that the off-road automaker is seriously considering putting a Wrangler-based pickup truck into production.
“That, maybe next generation, is a big opportunity for us to expand Wrangler as a brand,” Manley told FoxNews.com, adding that customers in the United States have shown a strong interest in just such a vehicle.
Jeep currently offers a JK-8 pickup truck conversion kit for the four-door Wrangler Unlimited through Chrysler’s Mopar parts and accessories division that Manley said has exceeded expectations.
“It’s sold incredibly well,” Manley said, “but there’s still that demand for a factory-produced Wrangler pickup.”
Jeep last offered one in 1986 called the Scrambler, but Manley is a fan of the idea and has green-lighted several Wrangler pickup concepts in recent years, including the retro-styled JK-12 and Mighty FC, which features a unique cab-over-engine design.
Jeep sold over 141,000 Wranglers in 2012, up from 122,000 in 2011, making it the brand’s second most popular vehicle behind the Grand Cherokee. But when it comes to increasing sales, bigger may not be the only way to make things better. A smaller Wrangler could also be in the brand’s future.
“Where we are with Wrangler today is much bigger than where we stared off,” Manley says, citing safety regulations that have added size and weight to the vehicle over the years.
He doesn’t suggest replacing the Wrangler outright with a smaller vehicle, but believes there’s an opportunity to make a more compact model that picks up some of its design cues.