Jeep is likely to build a ute (pickup) version of the next-generation Jeep Wrangler as the brand gears up to announce its plans for the next five years in May.
Speaking to Australian media in Geneva today, Jeep’s global boss, Mike Manly, hinted at the possibility of a Jeep ute. Mentioned previously, the concept was also seen in the flesh in 2005 with the Jeep Gladiator (pictured).
Manly confirmed that Jeep has aspirations to be a top 10 brand in Australia, but that it would need a pickup to compete in the utility segment to make that happen.
Asked outright of Jeep’s ute plans Manly said: “You have to wait until May [for an announcement regarding the matter].”
It’s not the first time the topic has arisen – in 2012, Manly told CarAdvice that the next-generation Jeep Wrangler would probably be viable as a pickup.
The brand does offer a do-it-yourself kit – the Mopar JK-8 pack – for Wrangler buyers to transform their off-roader into a more utility-focused model, but the company has never engineered and built a pickup version from scratch.
Manly stated the new fourth-generation Jeep Wrangler, which is likely to be launched in 2017, will see radical changes for better efficiency, including a weight loss program.
“It has to improve fuel economy, not just fuel economy but going into the future, we have to take weight out,” Manly said.
The company plans to also work on aerodynamics, despite the obvious challenges that exist with the iconic shape, as well as transmission and powertrains without damaging the Wrangler’s off-road capabilities.