At the L.A. Auto Show, Jeep CEO Mike Manley struggled to communicate his enthusiasm for the idea of a Jeep pickup truck without actually making a hard commitment that it's a done deal — a common dance that executives engage in when the timing of an announcement is too far out from the reality of a decision.
It's worth noting that huge variables in the economy and in the competition can change quickly, and any ill-timed comment or statement could cost jobs and millions of dollars. It's no wonder execs can be so cautious with their on-the-record comments. Still, some speculators have the Jeep pickup truck coming out in a few years.
"If we were doing something like that," Manley said, "for it to be monetized properly, we'd likely partner it with another, equally appropriate, platform." He noted that tentative timelines have the next Wrangler redesign scheduled for 2014.
We've reported in the past about Manley's interest in creating some kind of pickup truck for the U.S. market that could also compete well in Asian markets, where their priorities are more squarely focused on efficient use of payload capability and strong four-cylinder turbo-diesels. Also, we've seen a company like AEV at the 2011 SEMA show garner strong attention for its interpretation of what the next Jeep pickup might look like as well.
"I wouldn't want to come to market with anything that wasn't Jeep capable, no matter where we'd sell it," Manley said. When asked whether that could cause any problems with Ram and a possible re-entry of a Ram midsize truck, Manley was clear: "No matter what we do, it will have to play to our Jeep strengths and be different than anything Ram would do," he said.
What that means for Ram or how Wrangler-like a Jeep pickup needs to be remains to be seen.