Speaking yesterday with journalists at Chrysler’s Chelsea, Michigan proving grounds, Jeep CEO Mike Manley voices bullish interest in adding a pickup to the Jeep lineup. Could the never-ending rumors about the return of the Jeep Comanche finally be coming true?
Right now, according to Manley, what is standing between a new Jeep pickup for the United States is the need for a solid business case. According to a report on PickupTrucks.com, the cost of importing and exporting the new truck, could prevent it from becoming a reality. The plan would be to build a Wrangler-based pickup that could also help Chrysler’s bottom line in international markets -- such as Southeast Asia and Europe --where the demand for compact pickups is still quite high.
Wait; haven’t we heard this story before? Jeep previewed a Wrangler-based pickup in 2005 at the Chicago auto show with the Gladiator Concept. While looking almost production-ready, and with then-Chrysler management telling the public it was getting the green light, the modern-day Gladiator never made it past show car status. Jeep continued to tease us over the years with the J8 Sarge and JT concept trucks (and even made its J8 military-spec truck available as a kit car via American Expedition Vehicles), but no production vehicle emerged.
Earlier this spring, Mopar brought us one step closer to a JK pickup with the new JK8 conversion kit. Take one current JK-series Wrangler Unlimited four-door, a dozen power tools, and mix them with the Mopar kit, and voila -- owners can build their own two-door Wrangler pickup. It may not be a factory-built offering, but it is as close as you’re going to get for now.
Manley knows that the enthusiast customer base is there for a new Jeep pickup, so we’re asking you -- the enthusiasts -- to help build Jeep’s business case. What would get you to buy one? What would you want to see offered, both in terms of content and powertrain? How much would you pay? Would it have to be something totally bare bones, or should it have more creature comforts (like a Sahara model)? Let us know your thoughts what constitutes the perfect Jeep pickup in the comments section below.