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Next Wrangler Will Not Be All Aluminum

by Bill Cawthon on

The next-generation Jeep Wrangler won’t be all aluminum, according to FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, speaking to reporters at the SAE Foundation’s Annual Celebration last night. He was the guest of honor at the event, and was given the group’s 2015 Industry Leadership award.

Marchionne-Europe-Web

According to today’s Detroit News, Mr. Marchionne said that company tests showed the costs of an all-aluminum body outweighed the weight-saving benefits. The newspaper quoted him as saying, “Because of the difference in cost, not just the new material but the actual assembly process, I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminum.”

Ford has faced problems making the aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup, including tearing of aluminum body panels in the stamping process, causing delays in production of Ford’s largest moneymaker.

2018 Jeep Wrangler

The announcement could boost the prospects for Toledo, Ohio, which is spending millions of dollars trying to keep Wrangler production in the city. Mr. Marchionne said that Toledo is one of just two sites being considered for the next-generation of the Wrangler. He had previously said Toledo would keep all current jobs, regardless.

Odds are that the Wrangler would still save some weight through a lighter, hydroformed frame, and aluminum hoods and doors. Ram already uses hydroformed steel frames, and Chrysler Corporation used aluminum hoods and body panels as far back as 1976, in the Plymouth “Feather Duster.”

Chrysler Corporation later made an all-aluminum car, the Plymouth Prowler, but most of the team responsible for that car left the company when Daimler took over.

Mr. Marchionne also spoke about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA), saying, “We need to work with the agency in a very cooperative and open way to make sure that we can meet their requirements for their new stance… We have no option but to comply with their requirements and we will. I have nothing to hide in this process. I just want clear rules.”

He said that he will not be testifying at NHTSA’s public hearings, scheduled for July 2.

Speaking about the new, Italian-made Jeep Renegade, Marchionne confirmed that several issues, including software problems, were limiting availability.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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