Jeep is still pondering the production of a Wrangler Ute for its next-generation off-roader, with numerous international markets including Australia very interested in the potential product.
Speaking with Australian media in Detroit today, global Jeep CEO and president Mike Manly said a Wrangler pick-up would fit well into the Jeep range but stressed that the business case for such a variant was still not solid.
“Firstly we are now well into the program for Wrangler renewal,” Manly said. “It’s a longer-cycle program because of what the vehicle is. You know I am a big advocate of a Wrangler pick-up, [but] as part of that, the decision will or will not be made regarding a pick-up [variant]. From my perspective, it fits into the portfolio exactly.”
Manly admitted that Australia would be a perfect fit for a Wrangler ute, considering the 4x4 and 4x2 pick-up segments accounted for a substantial 175,373 sales in 2014.
The issue, according to Manly, is Fiat Chrysler’s Ram brand, which sits under the same family and is seen as the truck producer in the portfolio of brands. Unfortunately for us, Ram products are not built in right-hand-drive form, with only a few dozen making it to Australia each year for conversion.
“I believe if I did a Wrangler pick-up, every international market would take it. For you it’s a big deal. [But] even if you take up a pick-up variant of an existing vehicle, the level of investment to do that is not inconsequential. Outside of my desire to have it I still have to make sure from an economic perspective it’s the right thing to do.”
The Jeep Wrangler pick-up is a product that has been on the radar for some time and continues to be on the wish list for the time being. A concept Wrangler ute was previously shown in 2005 (pictured here).