Speaking with Automotive News, Marchionne said the upcoming new Wrangler would not feature an all-aluminium body as had previously been rumoured - although he promised the lightweight material would make up “a large portion” of its construction.
Panels such as the bonnet and tailgate could be all-aluminium, along with the doors, but steel will still be the primary material in the body overall.
“There will be a large portion of that vehicle that will be aluminium - it will not be all aluminum,” Mr Marchionne said.
“We've run the numbers and we've simulated mileage and the impact. Because of the difference in cost - not just of the material but the actual assembly process - I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminium. I think we can get very close.”
Little else about the new model is known, although earlier reports have suggested the next Wrangler will also offer smaller engines to improve fuel consumption.
The new Wrangler is expected to debut sometime in 2017.
Renegade Software Troubles
Speaking about the new Jeep Renegade compact SUV, which is due to arrive in Australia this year, Marchionne confirmed that a sizeable fleet was being withheld from dealers in the US over software issues.
Marchionne compared the problem to that which plagued the Jeep Cherokee in 2013, saying, perhaps for dramatic effect, that the Renegade was making his life horrible.
“I’m having a very bad engineering day,” Marchionne said. “It’s a combination of attributes of that vehicle that is making my life horrible.”
The software problem may be related to the nine-speed automatic, as it was with the Cherokee, but Jeep has not confirmed this.
Whether this issue will delay the Renegade’s arrival in Australia or not is unclear, but Marchionne predicted stocks to hit US showrooms again from mid-June.
Grand Cherokee, Wagoneer
Marchionne said the next Grand Cherokee SUV model would be delayed, to allow for joint development of an upcoming large luxury SUV.
“Development [of the Grand Wagoneer] needs to coincide with a complete relook at the Grand Cherokee architecture, and effectively jointly develop them,” Marchionne said.
“And if there is a delay, it’s due to the joining of these two programs into something that makes sense. It needs to happen.”
Marchionne said the Grand Wagoneer would likely feature three rows of seats, with pricing well above that of the current range-topping Grand Cherokee.
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