Fiat Chrysler dealers learned in their make meeting Friday that the long anticipated Jeep Wrangler-based pickup the automaker is working on should be in their showrooms by next April.
The small product detail was "the only thing new" in a one-hour make meeting, dealers said after the meeting, which otherwise was made up of a recap of 2017 sales results and largely optimistic projections for 2018 sales, dealers said.
FCA's U.S. sales have declined for 18 consecutive months through February, in large part because the automaker had dramatically reduced its fleet sales for most of last year. In 2017, FCA US sales dropped 8.2 percent to 2,059,376 vehicles, and are off another 6.8 percent through the first two months of 2018.
Dealers after the meeting said Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for FCA, told them "economic conditions are good" for sales growth in 2018, especially given increased availability for the Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500 pickup. Both vehicles were recently redesigned, while the next-generation Ram 1500 is being marketed in U.S. dealerships along with the previous generation of the pickup, which FCA says will remain in production at least through the end of this year as a way to protect the residual values of its more expensive updated offering.
The Wrangler-based pickup, which earlier was believed to carry the Scrambler nameplate, is scheduled to go into production in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Dealers after the meeting said that Bigland was asked about struggling Fiat dealerships, and said he told the dealers that he sympathized because small-car segments are especially tough right now because of consumer interests in larger vehicles.
An FCA spokesman declined to comment after the meeting.