The cries of off-roading Wrangler fans could be heard around the world earlier this month, when Fiat-Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne hinted that a car-like unibody design could underpin the next-generation 4WD.
This week, however, unnamed Jeep executives have reportedly moved to calm enthusiasts by confirming that the legendary off-roader will retain its capable body-on-frame construction.
In Paris earlier this month, Marchionne told press that if the Wrangler is to be given a lighter aluminium design, production would need to be moved from its current Toledo, Ohio, plant to one of two unibody-producing plants elsewhere.
“If the solution is aluminum then I think unfortunately Toledo is the wrong setup to try and build a Wrangler because it requires a complete reconfiguring of the assets, which would be cost prohibitive," Marchionne told press in Paris.
"I mean it would be just be so outrageously expensive for us to try and work out of that facility."
Those comments immediately sparked speculation that the Wrangler, too, would switch to a unibody design.
It has even been reported that the mayor of Toledo and representatives for the state of Ohio, concerned for the city’s position as the home of the Wrangler, contacted the company for confirmation of its direction.
But with a body-on-frame design now believed to be confirmed, it appears Chrysler and the government of Toledo are now considering a massive upgrade to allow the new Wrangler’s production to stay in the city.
According to Automotive News, Toledo’s city council has agreed to spend US$9.4 million on 32 acres of land near the existing plant.
For now, the Toledo plant is known to be running at capacity, as is the company’s Warren Assembly in Detroit, where the Ram 1500 pickup is built.
Whichever direction the company takes its new Wrangler in, Jeep spokesperson Todd Goyer has vowed the new model “will be the most capable Wrangler ever”.
That comment alone must surely confirm a body-on-frame construction, considered by enthusiasts to be a critical component in the Wrangler’s off-road ability.