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The next-generation Jeep Wrangler will be built and sold alongside the current model when it goes into production late 2017, according to a new report.

The new Wrangler has been the subject of speculation for some time. Originally believed to feature an all-aluminium body and a unibody chassis,  later reports have suggested otherwise.

More recent whispers have pointed to the use of aluminium elements in its construction, while sticking to the traditional body-on-frame chassis and drawing power from smaller, turbocharged engines to further improve efficiency.

Now, Industry journal Automotive News reports that Fiat Chrysler (FCA) plans to convert its assembly plant in Toledo, USA, from unibody production for the current Jeep Cherokee to body-on-frame for the next-generation Jeep Wrangler.

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Cherokee production will be relocated to Belvidere, USA, to make way for the new Wrangler’s assembly line.

The conversion of the Toledo assembly complex is expected to begin March 2017, and should take around six months to complete.

The Toledo plant also produces the current Wrangler, making it the only manufacturing facility in the world that builds the rugged off-roader.

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Production of the current Wrangler will continue throughout the conversion process, Automotive News reports, and is scheduled to remain in production through March 2018 – likely to be marketed as the Wrangler Classic, or similar, once the new model enters production.

Once complete, the Toledo plant will be outfitted to produce roughly 50 per cent more Wranglers than the current layout, with a projected 350,000 units annually.

A ute based on the new Wrangler is also expected to debut in 2018, taking advantage of the extra production volume.

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Head of Jeep brand, Mike Manley, told Automotive News said that supply is just behind demand, and the increased output of Wrangler production helping to keep the balance between supply and demand.

“Supply (is) just behind demand,” he said.

“We still see a strong order bank from the US, more demand from Europe, and still some residual demand from Asia that we can’t fill.”

Manley added that most sales of the Wrangler are in North America, however the model still remains popular globally.

MORE: Jeep Wrangler news, reviews, pricing and specs




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