In its five-year strategy announcement for its Jeep brand made one year ago, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles [NYSE:FCAU] said new versions of the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee would be introduced in 2017. Now there have been some changes made to the original plans.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Wrangler and, in particular, how the vehicle will feature a number of elements aimed at reducing fuel consumption. One of these elements was said to be an all-aluminum body.
However, speaking with Automotive News (subscription required), FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said the automaker has now changed its plans for the Wrangler and will no longer develop it with an all-aluminum body but will stick with conventional steel. Some components will remain aluminum, however, such as hung-on pieces like the tailgate, hood and doors.
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“We've run the numbers and we've simulated mileage and the impact,” Marchionne explained. “Because of the difference in cost—not just of the material but the actual assembly process—I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminum. I think we can get very close.”
As for the new Grand Cherokee, Marchionne said the vehicle may be delayed beyond the promised 2017 launch so that it can be jointly developed with a new Grand Wagoneer due out in 2018. Both vehicles are expected to ride on an updated version of the current Grand Cherokee’s platform.
“[Wagoneer] development needs to coincide with a complete relook at the Grand Cherokee architecture, and effectively jointly develop them,” Marchionne said. “And if there is a delay, it’s due to the joining of these two programs into something that makes sense. It needs to happen.”
And in the same interview, Marchionne said FCA will target luxury models such as the Land Rover Range Rover and other $100k SUVs with a high-end version of the Wagoneer, as opposed to a separate, all-new vehicle that Bloomberg reported a week ago.