PARIS -- The next-generation Jeep Wrangler may be built off a unibody platform, feature smaller and turbocharged engines, and switch to an aluminum body, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne said.
Such significant changes to the hot-selling SUV would likely mean leaving its longtime, historic production site in Toledo, Ohio, Marchionne said today.
In his strongest comments to date about Fiat Chrysler’s future plans for the Wrangler, Marchionnne hinted strongly the next-generation version is likely to be fundamentally different from the venerable off-roader available today.
The next Wrangler, due in 2017, has to lose weight and be powered by smaller engines than its current 3.6-liter V-6 engine in order to help Fiat Chrysler meet stricter U.S. fuel economy rules.
Yet building the off-roader’s current body-on-frame tub out of aluminum, which is under serious consideration, will mean moving Wrangler output away from its current plant in Toledo, Marchionne told reporters during a press conference at the Paris Auto Show.
Marchionne said that the debates that raged inside Ford Motor Co. about adopting an aluminum body on the redesigned 2015 F-150 pickup “are going on inside our house now.”
"One of the things we are debating is whether this thing requires going into a material other than steel," Marchionne told reporters.
“If the solution is aluminum, then I think unfortunately that Toledo is the wrong place, the wrong setup to try and build a Wrangler, because it requires a complete reconfiguring of the assets that would be cost-prohibitive,” Marchionne said. “It would be so outrageously expensive that it would be impossible to try and work out of that facility.”