It was just five short years ago that Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne revealed an aggressive product plan that included new cars, SUVs, crossovers and pickup trucks, with several serious North American plant restructurings as well. Many thought the plan was too aggressive and out of reach; however, the automaker's current North American success — especially with the Jeep and Ram brands doing so well — is proof it got most of it right.
Today Marchionne will lay out the next five-year strategy plan for the newly named Fiat Chrysler Automobiles during its Investor Day, and at least one Detroit journalist is hoping for a certain Jeep pickup truck concept from 2005 (remember the Jeep Gladiator?) to show up somewhere in the PowerPoint presentation.
According to Automotive News, the possibility of a new midsize pickup is a plant modification away. It seems that the Toledo, Ohio, plant could simply extend the current Wrangler Unlimited frame. Earlier reports have noted that Jeep wants to continue its global growth, but we'd be surprised if came in the form of a pickup truck based off such an unsophisticated (and heavy) platform.
Our guess is if FCA designers were going to construct a midsize truck, they'd be a little more creative than coming up with such a retro-looking product (let alone a retro-acting chassis). Especially since it would compete with two new stylish and high-tech options coming soon from GM and two more significant redesigns from Nissan and Toyota. Still, with the announcement of a new Grand Wagoneer coming in 2018 (according to the new FCA five-year plan), many will ask if this new GW will also have a pickup truck derivative just like the old ones did. We'll see.
Jeep CEO Mike Manley has never been shy about saying the Gladiator is the most asked about product from his brand, but he's always been a global thinker. That's why the Renegade, a micro Jeep specifically designed for China that will play quite well in other major global markets, has been on the top of his priority list for quite a while. And if Jeep is going to double its world production numbers before the next five-year plan is delivered, a small pickup truck slotted mostly for North America probably doesn't make much sense, regardless of what efficient powertrains and transmissions are available.
We'll always keep a little bit of hope in our back pockets for the return of a Jeep pickup truck, but we're guessing we won't see anything anytime soon. If you want to see what FCA revealed at their Investor's Day about Jeep products over the next five years, click here.