Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is going big on the Jeep Wrangler. CFO Richard Palmer recently told investors that “Jeep is the bedrock of this business plan.” The company unveiled many plans for Jeep’s growth, including confirmation that they are preparing a new Jeep Wrangler with hybrid and diesel powertrains, plus a Wrangler pickup.
The new Wrangler may arrive in 2017. It needs to meet newer and more stringent emissions requirements, so the hybrid and diesel powertrains will help the Wrangler achieve these goals. Some sources have reported that the Wrangler will shift to aluminum in order to reduce its weight, which should improve fuel economy. Of course the toughness that is a touchstone of Wrangler will still be present through its body-on-frame construction and off-road capability.
Fiat Chrysler confirmed to investors that its new lineup would be a Jeep Wrangler pickup. The company also indicated that they will be developing the Jeep Grand Wagoneer luxury SUV, which is more evidence that Fiat Chrysler is emphasizing trucks and SUVs.
Hendrick Dynamics and the US Army
In other news, the Jeep Wrangler may be heading back to the US Army. Negotiations are under way between the Army ad Wrangler to resurrect the iconic off-road vehicle for the military. The idea is that the Army version of the Wrangler would be an inexpensive, lightweight vehicle that could be transported to remote locations more efficiently than heavier options. The Wrangler would be unarmored vehicles.
Complicating the issue is that the negotiations were not initiated by Fiat Chrysler. Instead Hendrick Dynamics, an offshoot of the NASCAR racing team Hendrick Motorsports, came up with a modified Wrangler called the Hendrick Commando. Hendrick made changes to ensure it has more fuel options, including using a 2.8-liter diesel four, which can run on any kind of diesel fuel or on JP-8 jet fuel. This makes it much more versatile in deployment, and also allows it to meet the Army’s Single Fuel mandate of 2012.
The Hendrick Commando would also have many modular attachments that could be used for a large variety of jobs, like radar arrays, machine gun mounts or advanced communications. Hendrick has already built 14 prototypes, including a four-door, two-door and a pickup conversion (the Commando S). If the US Army contracts with Hendrick, it will bring the Jeep back to the Army where it got its start back in 1941. The iconic vehicle was deployed in WW II. Wrangler is still be produced in the same production plant in Toledo, Ohio.