Jeep eyeing Wrangler bakkie - reportComment on this story
This may very well be an idea whose time has finally come. We say finally because what you are looking at is the Jeep Gladiator concept, first shown at the Detroit auto show in 2005.
Chrysler has been toying with the idea of a Wrangler bakkie for even longer than that. You can even get a Mopar kit called the JK8 to convert a standard Wrangler into a very versatile short-wheelbase bakkie - but there's some cutting and welding involved, so quality can become an issue, depending on who does the conversion.
But now Jeep president has told Australian publication CarAdvice that Chrysler would make a decision on whether or not to build a genuine Wrangler bakkie 'pretty soon' - and that it could possibly be incorporated in the next generation of the iconic Jeep off-roader, as soon as 2015 or 2016.
FOUR-DOOR WITH A BED
But, Manley told Car Advice, there was a fundamental problem: length. With a two-door bakkie, the chassis geometry would be similar to the current Wrangler and just a capable off-road - but what the market wanted was what he called “a four-door with a bed” - what we would call a double-cab.
That, he said, would have to be longer, to the detriment of its break-over angle and, ultimately, its off-road performance and its credibility with Jeep customers.
Manley was pretty blunt in the interview with CarAdvice that he wasn't going to let any bakkie damage the brand value the Wrangler has created.
‘A GENUINE JEEP PICK-UP’
Alternatively, he said, they might use one of the 'very, very versatile' platforms Fiat and Chrysler were working on together to built a whole new model - 'a genuine Jeep pick-up'.
That calls back memories of the hugely successful Gladiator pickup of the 1960s, which was discontinued after Jeep was taken over by Chrysler because it competed against the Dodge bakkies of the day.
Since then the Dodge Ram has gone seriously upmarket, and there may well be room for a rugged, all-wheel drive, one-ton Jeep bakkie to give the Nissan Patrol and Toyota Land Cruiser a run for their money.