Pete Milosavlevski, 45
Chief engineer for Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Big break: Being assigned chief engineer for the Gladiator
The midsize Gladiator had to be a pickup, and it had to be a Jeep.
It was up to Pete Milosavlevski and his team to meet that goal.
To play in the pickup market, the Gladiator had to prove that it was more than a Wrangler with a bed. The engineering team needed to strike a balance to achieve the comfortable ride expected from today’s pickups and a class-leading towing capability of 7,650 pounds. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles says the suspension is tuned to optimize on-road handling and ride comfort without sacrificing off-road capability.
The team’s work paid off in January, when the Gladiator was named North American Truck of the Year.
Milosavlevski, chief engineer of the Gladiator as well as the Wrangler, said the team was “able to do the things that we wanted to do and differentiate it from the Wrangler in a way that it was still 100 percent truck and yet 100 percent Jeep,” Milosavlevski said. “That was our motto going into the development and, at the end, we delivered it. Best-in-class towing, best-in-class off-road capability. Best-in-segment payload among equally equipped 4x4 trucks. We were able to achieve all the things you wanted to achieve in terms of our performance metrics.”
Milosavlevski, who’s been with company for 23 years, also pulled together a team that established Jeep’s new Desert Rated metrics, which were first applied to the upcoming Gladiator Mojave trim offering suspension upgrades and other enhancements. The rating is based on several pillars: ride control and stability, traction, ground clearance, maneuverability and desert prowess. Milosavlevski believes the desert rating was a “cool accomplishment” that “will live on forever.”
One of the biggest challenges of his career, he said, was working on the 2009 Ram 1500, a project that had to be completed during the financial crisis that pushed Chrysler into bankruptcy.
“It was imperative to get cash flow into the company,” Milosavlevski recalled. To build the truck, the Ram team did “whatever we had to do as a team to restart the process of getting parts, getting parts to the assembly plant, getting the work force set up, validating the vehicle for new changes that were coming in.”
Milosavlevski comes from an auto family, with both of his parents working on assembly lines. His father was a skilled tradesman for Chrysler, while his mother sewed seats at Ford. They wanted him to be an engineer.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to go that route, but seeing the Dodge Viper convinced him it was the right path. He ended up working on Vipers as a quality engineer.
“At that time in the early ’90s, the Dodge Viper and the Stealth came out. I really fell in love with the Viper, like really fell in love with it,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘That’s where I want to work. I want to work on Vipers. It’s the coolest car out there.’?”
— Vince Bond Jr.