For over 70 years, Jeep has been a worldwide icon built of American steel and can-do attitude in Toledo, Ohio. The Wrangler has carried on the legacy of the original Jeep, but Automotive News reports that Fiat-Chrysler is considering a switch to an aluminum body and small-displacement turbo motors in Wrangler. More dramatic, it move from its longtime home in Toledo.
Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told AN that;
“We firmly believe that we have to downsize the engines that are going into the Wrangler, just in terms of displacements, and then increase the capabilities by putting turbos in and doing other things to that engine. This requires a complete rethink of the architecture.”
He went on to say that part of this “complete rethink” could be doing away with the heavy steel structure in favor of lighter aluminum. Ford is going whole-hog with aluminum throughout its SUV and truck lineup, and Chrysler could follow suit, but that could also require moving Jeep from its historic Toledo home. The cost of retooling the massive Toledo plant could be higher than just building a new plant, or reconfiguring a more modern facility for the task of building aluminum Wranglers.
According to Marchionne, if the Wrangler goes 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.”
Another likely candidate for the Wrangler is the EcoDiesel V6, good for up to 28 MPG in the Ram 1500. A small displacement six-cylinder would certainly fit the bill, but a smaller turbocharged four-banger could be on deck as well. This is just the latest rumor pointing towards an aluminum Wrangler, which faces the uphill battle or maintaining off-road credibility and meeting strict fuel economy standards. Aluminum and turbo might be the only choice other than extinction…or dare I suggest a hybrid?
While it might suck to move the Wrangler from Toledo, there will be sacrifices and tears along the march of progress, and if Ford F-150 buyers can learn to love aluminun, so can Wrangler fans (your humble writer included).