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Wagoneer on hold — “oops” again?

by David Zatz on

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer, a high-end SUV based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, has been put on hold, according to Automotive News and a trusted source. Last week, Autoline said the Wagoneer had been dropped.

Another Allpar source claimed that several projects had been placed on hold due to a temporary lack of people, facilities, and money, especially as FCA pushes to reach debt neutrality.

Auburn Hills has several high priority projects nearing readiness (possibly running late), with redesigns of the Ram 1500 and Jeep Wrangler, and a new Jeep Scrambler. There may also be unexpected time-and-money expenses around the “factory shuffle.”

Years ago, some insiders said that the Durango stretched the capabilities of the Grand Cherokee plant, designed for the relatively compact Jeep Grand Cherokee “ZJ” (you can see how tight the fit is in the plant pics). If the planned Wagoneer was too large, it would have to be built at Warren — which means that Ram has to move out first, the long-overdue plant modernization has to take place, and only then can it be updated to make unibody SUVs — all quite pricey and lengthy investments.

Could this really be a hideously expensive blunder? Could they have spent a billion dollars on a high-end Jeep, only to find it was not possible to make it? Or did they plan to move Ram out sooner, under the assumption that there would be ready cash to modernize and convert Warren, only to change their mind in one of the lightning-reversals FCA has become famous for?

It doesn’t look like there’s room for a wider body on these carriers.

Some believe that the original Wagoneer plan has already been replaced by a big, Ram-based Escalade competitor, a major deviation from Jeep’s norm.  This would only be near-term-practical if they were already working on a Ram SUV, and given Ram’s increased capacity, perhaps they have been.

Regardless, the Durango will continue to be the “three-row Grand Cherokee,” and the Wagoneer will apparently be bumped even further into the future.   Jeep Grand Wagoneer

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