Next-generation Jeep Wrangler will still be a body-on-frame model

Article by Andrew Christian, on October 25, 2014

Production of the next-generation Jeep Wrangler would likely remain in Toledo, Ohio. This came as Automotive News learned from people privy with Chrysler Group’s plans that the new Wrangler will still be a body-on-frame vehicle, instead of becoming a unibody model. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief executive Sergio Marchionne has implied that the Wrangler might have a unibody frame.

He indicated during the recent Paris auto show the next generation model might have an aluminum body – a move that would require Chrysler to shift production of the Wrangler to another site since its plant in Toledo could not handle building an aluminum vehicle sans a huge investment in new equipment.

He added that Chrysler had available manufacturing capacity at two unibody site outside of Ohio. Now that the next Wrangler will remain a body-on-frame SUV, Toledo will be able to build it whether it would have an aluminum body or not.

Additional sources told Automotive News that Chrysler may proceed with the aluminum body. The SUV’s frame construction is regarded as important to its off-road capabilities by Jeep enthusiasts since it means more strength, rigidity and durability.

Since the manufacturing methods for unibody vehicles and body-on-frame models are very different, a unibody assembly line cannot be used for body-on-frame assembly. If the Wrangler becomes a unibody, it could not be built on Toledo’s body-on-frame assembly lines.

This piece of information could mean peace of mind for local politicians and union officials in Ohio, who have been unsettled with the possibility of losing Wrangler production.

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