Marchionne confirms body-on frame platform for Jeep Wagoneers, hints at Alfa platform for next Grand Cherokee

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2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU] on Monday confirmed that its planned Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs will be built at its Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Michigan.

The plant is where FCA builds the body-on-frame Ram 1500 pickup truck, and FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed that the Wagoneer duo will also feature body-on-frame construction. Marchionne made the confirmation on Monday on the sidelines of the 2017 Detroit auto show, Automotive News (subscription required) reports.

It was originally planned that the SUVs would feature unibody construction and share a platform with the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. The shakeup may explain why the new SUVs have been delayed. They were originally due in 2018 but now won’t arrive until 2019 or 2020.

Unibody construction is what most luxury brands use for their SUVs, due to the more car-like dynamics it affords. However, General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] has shown with its hugely popular Cadillac Escalade that luxury buyers aren’t shy of big, body-on-frame SUVs. Other body-on-frame luxury SUVs include the Lincoln Navigator and Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

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It also appears that there’s a shakeup in the plans for the next-generation Grand Cherokee. According to Autocar, Marchionne also said in Detroit that FCA was completing a feasibility study into the viability of basing the next Grand Cherokee on the same platform as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. The platform is the SUV version of the Giorgio platform that debuted in Alfa’s Giulia.

“We’re finishing off the study now, but I’m going on the basis of the latest information, which is that it will be the basis upon which the Grand Cherokee will be developed, unless something happens in the next 60 days that suggests it isn’t doable,” Marchionne is quoted as saying. “That would really complete the story of architectural development for us because I think it would certainly nail in a big piece of the Jeep story.”

Previously, it was thought that FCA would base the next Grand Cherokee on an updated version of the current model’s platform. The existing platform was developed during the Daimler-Chrysler era and is also used by Mercedes-Benz for its GLE.

Once again, the change in the original plans may explain why the next Grand Cherokee has been delayed. The vehicle was originally due in 2017. It now won’t likely appear until 2018 or 2019.

 
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