Jeep has revealed new details about its long-rumored pickup truck. Although the on-again, off-again model still hasn’t been given the green light for production, the company’s design team is busily toying around with at least two distinctly different body styles.
The first option on the table is to build a truck that’s essentially a long-wheelbase version of the next-generation Wrangler that’s fitted with a pickup bed, a design that was previewed in 2005 with the Gladiator concept. If Jeep goes that route, the yet-unnamed truck is expected to be a rugged, body-on-frame model that will share nearly all of its components with its SUV sibling. It will be cost-effective to build and highly profitable, but it might not reach a wide audience.
According to Australian website Motoring, the second option is to build a standalone truck that will likely be less rugged than the Wrangler and designed with more of an emphasis on play than on work. From there, Jeep could build a smaller truck like the Fiat Toro that was recently introduced in Brazil, or a slightly bigger model that would take on the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins and the Toyota Tacoma.
Regardless of what form Jeep’s truck takes, it needs to be a volume-focused model that’s capable of reaching a diverse audience all around the world, a task that’s easier said than done. Another obstacle standing in its way is that parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) hasn’t found the extra production capacity required to build a new Jeep model.
“We sell every Wrangler we make, there’s no extra room at the Ohio plant, so there are other issues beyond the vehicle itself,” explained Mike Allen, Jeep’s head of design.
The next Wrangler is scheduled to make its public debut at a major auto show in 2017 and it will land in showrooms as a 2018 model. If it’s given the green light for production, the truck could arrive before the decade draws to a close.
The idea of a Jeep-branded truck is far from new. The CJ-8 that was introduced in 1981 was essentially a long-wheelbase version of the CJ-7 that was fitted with a pickup bed, which sounds a lot like the first option that company officials are considering.
Jeep also built a full-size truck called Gladiator from 1962 until 1988. It didn’t spawn a direct successor, but the company continued to compete in the pickup segment until 1992 with a smaller model called Comanche that was based on the original Cherokee.