Rumors have been swirling on whether FCA would follow Ford’s lead in aluminum body construction, building the next-generation Wrangler from the lightweight, high-strength material. Well Sergio Marchionne has set the record straight, saying the upcoming Wrangler will not feature an all-aluminum body.

The news came as the FCA CEO talked at a recent SAE Foundation awards ceremony. “There will be a large portion of that vehicle that will be aluminum. It will not be all aluminum,” Marchionne said. “We’ve run the numbers and we’ve simulated mileage and the impact. Because of the difference in cost – not just of the material but the actual assembly process – I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminum. I think we can get very close.”

Weighting heavily in the decision would be the need for a complete retrofit of the Toledo, Ohio assembly plant where every Wrangler comes to life. Retaining a steel body eliminates that need. However, that doesn’t mean the Wrangler will forego aluminum altogether. Marchionne said the Wrangler will likely feature an aluminum hood, tailgate, and doors.

Such weight savings will help increase the Wrangler’s fuel economy and ease of drivability. What’s more, aluminum parts don’t rust – an important point considering Wranglers tend to have an extended life in environments unfriendly to more traditional vehicles.

Expect Jeep to have the next-generation Wrangler ready for the 2017 model year, with a debut happening sometime in 2016.

Continue reading to learn more about the next Jeep Wrangler.

Why it matters

Aluminum is becoming an important building material in vehicles these days. Jaguar and Land Rover have already proved aluminum’s ability to decrease vehicle weight, and Ford is in the process of proving aluminum can be used in a mass-market vehicle with the 2015 F-150. The major downside, of course, is cost. The Wrangler has long been an affordable option for off-roaders, offering tons of equipment at a decent price. Adding aluminum to the mix would likely dilute the value.

Jeep Wrangler

2014 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon X - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Source: Automotive News

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read More
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