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by Robert W. Sheaves (edited). Written in mid-October 2014; updated February 2017.
Bob Sheaves was responsible for 4x4 suspension design at the Jeep/Truck Engineering’s PreProgram Engineering Department from the 1980s to 1993.
Allpar’s owner, David Zatz, asked what approach I would take to design a Jeep for the 2017 model year, following Sergio Marchionne’s dictates, and what Chrysler is likely to do. This article is based on my engineering evaluation of various public sources, along with private discussions.
FCA has confirmed that they will make a Wrangler-based pickup — one year after the next Wrangler starts production, just as Allpar had predicted.
To maintain production rates and avoid a more serious factory refit, I do not expect any four door pickup, strictly a two door version with some extra space behind the front seats, like a Dakota or MJ Comanche — and not a full “Club Cab,” either. You would probably have about 6-7 inches to allow for a rear crash clearance (to avoid having your head hit the rear glass in a crash). The reason is to keep carriers the same distance apart when building Wranglers and pickups.
This is one of the compromises customers and consumers will have to live with; without an increase in the spacing, there is no room to build a longer vehicle. With an increase, one would have to cut production and/or invest large sums into the plant which would not be justified by expected sales.
The limits on the size due to line spacing will keep the pickup’s sales limited, and incidentally prevent it from competing with Ram 1500.
I could see the pickup in two versions....a standard pickup with light duty set of semi-floating front hubs and a “heavy duty” option (not a separate model) using the full-float setup from the J8, taking advantage of the independent front suspension to only require a wheel end swap on the line in the front.
I expect pickup production to be around 40,000 — 7,000 knockdown kits (CKDs) for foreign final assembly, and 33,000 complete vehicles. The CKD figures into African sales, through AAV in Egypt (discussed here).
There would need to be a change in frame width. To mount a different bed, regardless of type, you need to have the rear frame rails spaced at 34” across the top flange. This will require a pair of adapter rails that bolt to the top of the existing frame rails similar to the older Dodge D and W chassis-and-cab trucks. It is more involved than just pulling off the box or just not installing a box in the rear, because of using the full body’s frame assembly under all of them (this also means a change to the J8 export military truck to this new design).
The Red Rock Responder Wrangler concept showed off a short, externally-sloped pickup bed that does not interfere with the Jeep’s ability to climb steep obstacles.
In other words, your pickup will be about the size of a Ford Ranger in length, but a little wider — with the passenger room of today’s two-door Wrangler, and narrower mirrors and fender flares, and built with a separate bed. The bed would probably not be unitized to the main body for structural reasons.
On the issue of the Jeep J8, with its unique Hotchkiss rear suspension and semi floating Dana 60, I would expect to see the axle changed to a light-duty 60, with the hubs changing back to the older full floating style and a higher rated GVWR link coil package to meet NATO needs. I do not see a version for the US military.
Just like the first and second generation Dakota, you would have around a 1,000 lb payload and up to a 6,000 lb tow rating with a Pentastar V6 (this doesn’t mean a diesel would be precluded).
See our rumor roundup on the JT Scrambler / Wrangler Pickup
Related Jeep Wrangler pages
Inside the Wrangler
Variants and related...
The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL: suspension • aluminum vs steel • open or fixed roof • pickup
body engineering • weight, strength, and safety • transmissions • engines
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