Fiat-Chrysler’s main strength right now is the enormous popularity of the Jeep brand, and the ability to sell just about anything with that nameplate. So naturally, questions about the return of a truck to the Jeep lineup won’t go away.
In an interview with The Detroit News, head of Jeep Mike Manley said a pickup belongs in the Jeep lineup. But he basically said Jeep fans shouldn’t hold their breath for its quick return, despite the brand going from strength to strength.
“At this moment and time, I have higher priorities. That doesn’t mean to say that we don’t work on it, we’re not looking at it.”
The last Jeep with a bed was the 1986-92 Comanche, introduced while American Motors was still around and running the Jeep show. Chrysler bought AMC in 1987 and the Comanche overlapped with the existing Dodge Dakota. The in-house rival and slow sales contributed to its demise.
Manley hinted at a Jeep pickup back in 2012, possibly for the 2015 model year. But it’s 2015 and there’s no model based off of the 2005 Gladiator concept. And the problems in 2012 were the same as the problems now. Jeep can’t build enough Cherokees and Grand Cherokees to meet demand. A Ram 1500-based Jeep pickup is out of the question because it would just take sales from that brand. And Ram is already struggling to meet demand.
Detroit News seems to think the likely solution will come with the next-generation, 2018 Wrangler and a possible pickup derivative of it. Such a vehicle would likely have the type of construction truck buyers want, and the off-road capability Jeep loyalists demand. It makes sense in theory, but considering the Wrangler is one of the most popular SUVs out there and sells for high prices and few incentives, would a pickup make it harder for Jeep to make and sell a possibly more profitable SUV?
Time will tell, and I’d like a Jeep pickup truck to rejoin the portfolio as much as the next person. It’ll just be a nice surprise when it finally happens.
*Note: Jeep Gladiator pictured below