Even though enthusiasm for a Jeep pickup continues to run strong, its development is taking a back seat to more urgent projects at Chrysler, according to Jeep's CEO.
“[The pickup] continues to progress because of the interest in the vehicle,” said Jeep chief Mike Manley. “One of the things as a company that we’ve had to be very disciplined in is where we’re putting our resources. We’re still in recovery mode and have to be very careful with our investments. We have so much going on. Our resources are fully dedicated to small vehicles, [new transmissions] and working with Fiat. There are none left to work on the Jeep pickup [at this time].”
If and when a Jeep pickup does arrive, it might head to overseas markets as well as the U.S..
“There’s clear interest in the U.S. for a pickup,” Manley said, “It could [also] give us potential for some of our international markets even though the pickup market is slightly different outside of the U.S.”
In global regions, such as Southeast Asia and Europe, fuel-efficient midsized crew cab pickups with a hauling capacity of one metric ton (1,000 kilograms or 2,205 pounds) are highly popular.
Manley thinks a Jeep pickup sold outside of North America could find new territory to compete in.
“If you took a Wrangler-based pickup [similar to the Jeep Gladiator concept pictured above], it would almost still remain as a unique vehicle in international markets,” Manley said. “We could do a metric ton version of it. That’s the biggest market. But a lot of the market is commoditized. I wouldn’t want to do a commodity Jeep pickup.”
How likely is a crew cab Wrangler-based hauler versus a smaller cab configuration?
“You’d have to be very careful because of the attributes of Wrangler,” Manley said. “Clearly, you could do it, but you’d have to look long and hard at whether you’d moved to far away from what Wrangler is to do that.”
Ultimately, an internationally sold Jeep pickup still depends on its impact to Chrysler’s bottom line.
“There’s an opportunity but whether the business case makes sense or not is the issue,” Manley said. “Mainly because of manufacturing location and [import/export] duties around the world.”
In the meantime, while Chrysler tackles its urgent vehicle development efforts and develops a business case, Manley says the Jeep pickup remains a personal priority.
“It’s certainly something that’s of huge interest to me,” Manley said.