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Wrangler’s “smaller” body

by David Zatz on

Earlier today, Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette wrote about Jeep Wrangler getting a lighter, smaller body. Aluminum construction alone would be unlikely to provide sufficient weight gains, according to industry long-timer Bob Sheaves, given the need to excel in new government and insurance industry safety tests.

2018 Jeep Wrangler rendering

While Mr. Sheaves wrote in October 2014 that Wrangler was likely to remain body-on-frame, using a high-strength hot-rolled steel frame, he also noted that the company had other choices, including:

  • a semi-monocoque setup (“unit-body”), such as nearly all Chrysler cars built from around 1960 onwards, or the Jeep Cherokee XJ.
  • a full monocoque, which relies completely on stressed body panels with no subframes at all (this is unlikely).
  • a roll cage — a separate structure using round tubes passing through, and independent of, the body structure, tied to the main frame. This is also unlikely.
  • a spaceframe, a normally box-shaped series of extrusions that carry the stress of the vehicle.

One of the key issues in the choice is cost, but with weight reduction at a premium, switching from the traditional body-on-frame setup is possible.  Mr. Sheaves said at the time that the best way to approach the issue would be to use a true space frame of aluminum, which uses less material but has greater strength in torsion and stiffness alike. However, he noted that it was unlikely that Chrysler had the expertise to do one.

The body itself may simply be narrower, which he said could be done by closing gaps and shortening the track. This may be the “smaller body”noted by Mr. Vellequette.  Full article by Bob Sheaves


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