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Jeep to Cease Wrangler JK Production Making Way for new JL Pickup

Jeep to Cease Wrangler JK Production Making Way for new JL Pickup

That means the pickup’s debut is getting closer

Jeep is scheduled to end production of the outgoing Wrangler JK on April 7, 2018. Both the JK and the all-new 2018 Wrangler JL have been built simultaneously since November, but on separate assembly lines on separate sides of the Jeep campus. However, the JK’s end marks the beginning of the Wrangler JL-based pickup truck, the Scrambler.

Moreover, that means the Scrambler’s official debut is quickly approaching. The 2018 Chicago Auto Show is likely the next-best opportunity. The show is slated for February 8 and 9, so we don’t have long to wait.

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Surprise: 2019 Jeep Cherokee Prices Announced

Surprise: 2019 Jeep Cherokee Prices Announced

Not Surprising: it’s more expensive

Jeep has announced the pricing for its refreshed 2019 Cherokee mid-size SUV. The reshaped Cherokee debuted earlier this month at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show and wears a more traditional front end that is more likely to appeal to a wider audience. It also has slightly more cargo space and comes with Jeep’s new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in addition to its carryover 2.4-liter I-4 and 3.2-liter V-6 engines. Its nine-speed automatic and Active Drive 4WD system have been improved for efficiency, as well.

The 2019 Jeep Cherokee’s base price actually drops $300 in the base Latitude trim to $25,190. Every other trim level, however, sees an increase in price. The Latitude Plus increases by $300 and the Limited trim increases by $680. The two range-topping trims, the off-road-ready Trailhawk and the luxurious Overland jump by $2,425 and $2,280, respectively. That puts the 2019 Cherokee Trailhawk starting at $34,515 and the Overland in FWD at $36,275.

Jeep has streamlined its 4WD costs, with Active Drive I costing $1,500 on all trims except for the Trailhawk, which has its 4WD price baked into its base MSRP. The Trailhawk gets Cherokee’s most advanced 4WD system, Active Drive Lock.

Further adding to a price increase, Jeep added an extra $100 to its destination charge, bringing it to $1,195 for all trim levels.

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FCA Has no Plans of Parting Ways With Jeep

FCA Has no Plans of Parting Ways With Jeep

It would be silly if the company sold Jeep

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has shot down rumors that it’s planning to sell Jeep to its Chinese partner, GAC. No less than FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne broke the news at the Detroit Auto Show, telling Autocar that FCA isn’t going to sell off its most popular brand. "We have no intention of breaking up the company or giving it to the Chinese," he said. "We have a very good partner in GAC. They have global ambitions, they want to come to the US and we’re talking to them about if and how they can accomplish that. None of that is designed to impact on the independence of FCA."

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Meet the Jeep Grand Commander - A Jeep Built Just for China

Meet the Jeep Grand Commander - A Jeep Built Just for China

Room for seven and the 2.0-liter from the 2018 Wrangler JL

It’s no secret Jeep has big plans for the Chinese market and these leaked plans of a seven-passenger SUV confirm the automaker’s future goals. It’s called the Grand Commander, and it’s basically the production version of the Jeep Yuntu Concept seen at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show. The news comes by way of China’s National Trademark Office where the patent images were lifted.

Reports around the web indicate the Grand Commander will utilize Jeep’s new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that debuted with the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL. The engine will likely produce the same 270 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The Wrangler’s future plug-in hybrid powertrain is also expected in the Grand Commander. Expect Fiat Chrysler’s eight-speed automatic and an AWD or 4WD system, as well.

Information on the Grand Commander’s debut date and its first model year is still absent, however, it’s expected Jeep will reveal the three-row SUV at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show in April. If that’s true, the Grand Commander could be on track for the 2019 model year. Jeep will most likely build the Grand Commander in China.

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FCA Could Be Bought by a Chinese Automaker

FCA Could Be Bought by a Chinese Automaker

Four Chinese brands reportedly looking to score a deal

Formed in 2014, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) alliance has been doing very good these past three years, which is why Sergio Marchionne is on the lookout to either sell the company or make another merger with a big brand. FCA was refused by General Motors back in 2015 and Marchionne’s attempts to find a new collaboration have been unsuccessful so far. However, it seems that FCA is actually on the brink of finding a new owner. According to new reports, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has received at least one offer in August from a "well-known Chinese automaker."

That’s the word from Automotive News, which claims that the over was slightly higher than FCA’s current market value, but the Italian-American alliance rejected it for not being enough. There’s no detailed information as to what Chinese automaker made the offer, but speculation has it that FCA is negotiating with more than one company. Also, a source close to FCA said that company executives have traveled to China to meet with Great Wall Motor Co., while different sources claim talks with Dongfeng Motor Corp., Zhejiang Geely, and Guangzhou Automobile Group.

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Jeep Brand Worth More Than FCA, Report Suggests

Jeep Brand Worth More Than FCA, Report Suggests

Morgan Stanley analyst says Jeep strong enough to stand alone

There’s no question the Jeep Brand is doing extremely well. But, according to Adam Jonas, a Wall Street analyst with Morgan Stanley, Jeep is more valuable than the rest of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Jonas conducted a sum-of-the-parts analysis that concluded Jeep’s value is 120 percent of FCA’s $23.6-billion market capitalization. That’s a huge deal for a sub-brand of a global automaker. What’s more, Jonas estimates Jeep could account for nearly half of FCA’s total vehicle sales by 2018.

Of course, Jeep’s upcoming 2018 Wrangler JL and the Wrangler Pickup likely contribute to Jonas’ optimistic estimates, but even currently, Jeep has seen tremendous growth since 2009 when Fiat took control of Chrysler. CNBC reports Jeep sold 1.4 million vehicles worldwide in 2016, which is four times its sales volume in 2009. New models like the Renegade and Cherokee are undoubtedly contributing thanks to the boom in popularity for the crossover segment. However, Jeep’s success could mean big bucks for FCA and its shareholders if the brand is sold or spun off. FCA has already done this with Ferrari with great success. FCA’s market cap was listed between $15 and $16 billion before the Ferrari spin-off in late 2015, according to CNBC. Since then, FCA and Ferrari now have a combined market cap over $31 billion. When Jonas asked FCA boss Sergio Marchionne if he would consider spinning of the Jeep brand, Marchionne reportedly said, “yes.” However, no plans have been made public by FCA or its executives. What does this mean for Jeep? Keep reading for more.

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AEV Stopping Production of Wrangler JK Brute Double Cab

AEV Stopping Production of Wrangler JK Brute Double Cab

Aftermarket Jeep tuner preps for the Wrangler JK’s last days

American Expedition Vehicles is a well-known aftermarket parts and tuning company that specializes in Jeep Wrangler TJ and JK off-road parts designed to improve capability while looking like OEM equipment. Perhaps AEV’s most well-known product is the Brute Double Cab. Built using a donor Wrangler Unlimited, the Brute is the only Wrangler pickup available on the market. But with Jeep’s next-generation Wrangler JL coming to market in the next year, AEV is preparing to end Brute production.

AEV offers Brute conversions on brand new Wrangler Unlimited they procure from the Jeep assembly plant. Customers then buy the freshly modified Jeeps right from AEV’s Michigan headquarters, or through the ever-growing network of Jeep dealerships partnered with AEV.

Customers can also custom-order their Brute. Options include larger wheels and tires, suspension lifts, bumpers, and even Hemi V-8 engine swaps. Of course, the Brute’s main attribute is its injection-molded, composite cargo bed. The Wrangler’s frame is actually lengthened by several inches, giving enough room for the cargo bed and the ability to store a full-size spare tire between the frame rails.

Sadly the Brute’s days are numbered. Jeep is mere months away from debuting the next-generation Wrangler, dubbed the JL. As most Jeep enthusiasts know, the Wrangler JL will be offered in a pickup version, dubbed the JT. With Jeep soon making its own Wrangler pickup, AEV will end production of the Wrangler JK Brute. AEV’s order books are closing March 31, so those wanting a piece of Jeep history better act fast.

The Brute Double Cab starts at $41,665, not including the donor Jeep, which can range from $30,000 to $50,000. Pricing can well exceed the $100,000 mark with all the available add-ons selected. Items include upgraded axles, off-road lights, recovery winches, various tire options, and interior leather upgrades. AEV will even swap in the mighty 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 with the Wrangler’s six-speed manual transmission.

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Jeep Confirms Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer & Pickup Truck

Jeep Confirms Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer & Pickup Truck

And they’ll be body-on-frame!

FCA Boss Sergio Marchionne has officially confirmed the long-rumored Jeep Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer, and Wrangler Pickup at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. The news serves as confirmation that Jeep will indeed seek to compete against big-name luxury brands like Range Rover, while expanding its Wrangler lineup to appeal to SUV and truck-leaning market trends. What’s more, news reports from the auto show floor say Marchionne confirmed both the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will ride on ladder-frame chassis.

This news is the cherry on top of FCA’s recent shake-up regarding its North American assembly plants and its committed investment into U.S. manufacturing and job creation.

Both the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will be built at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Michigan. Currently the Ram 1500 pickup is assembled here, but will move to the near-by Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, which is now free after FCA ended production of the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans. FCA also announced Warren will also build the Ram Heavy Duty pickups, which are moving from Saltillo, Mexico. FCA did not mention whether the decision to relocate the Ram HD’s assembly to Michigan has anything to do with president-elect Donald Trump’s negative stance on the NAFTA trade deal.

The next-generation Jeep Wrangler will continue rolling off the same Toledo Assembly line in Ohio. The Wrangler Pickup will join the Wrangler here, as well. FCA says all of these moves will be completed by 2020.

This game of musical chairs isn’t coming cheap. FCA has committed to invest nearly $1 billion to revamp both the Warren Truck Assembly Plant and the Toledo Assembly Complex. Another $700 million will be invested retooling the Sterling Heights plant and another $350 million will be invested to retool the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois to produce the Jeep Cherokee, which is moving from the Toledo plant to free space for the Wrangler Pickup.

FCA’s monetary investments will also create jobs – at least 4,000 new jobs, in fact.

Neither FCA nor Jeep made any indication as to what model year the Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer, and Wrangler Pickup would fall under. The next-generation Wrangler SUV is expected for the 2018 model year.

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Jeep Considering Building Rival To Nissan Juke

Jeep Considering Building Rival To Nissan Juke

Model would sit below the Jeep Renegade and take its place as the company’s baby model

On the heels of unveiling the facelifted Jeep Grand Cherokee and a pair of special edition models to commemorate its 75th anniversary, Jeep boss Mike Manley unloaded another interesting bit of news that should get fans of the brand hyped and excited. Speaking with Autocar, Manley admitted that there’s a possibility the company will build an all-new model that would slow below the Renegade and serve as Jeep’s response to the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur.

Manley didn’t dive into the details of what Jeep’s cooking up, but if the model does come to fruition, it’s still going to have the off-road qualities that Jeep is known for. The question now is whether or not the company will follow the same quirky design spirit of the Juke, a model that isn’t exactly a beacon of conventional styling.

It’s still unclear how far along Jeep is in the discussions about such a model, but one thing’s likely; it’s not going to arrive anytime soon. That said, there are reports that Jeep’s India division is working on a B-segment SUV. It reportedly even has a codename - 526 - and is described as being less than four meters (13.12 feet) long. Manley didn’t say if there’s any connection between that model and the company’s overarching plans of building a sub-Renegade model, but it does sound like something that’s worth keeping tabs on.

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Former Toledo Jeep Plant Site Now Home to Instrument Cluster Supplier

Former Toledo Jeep Plant Site Now Home to Instrument Cluster Supplier

Next-generation Jeep Wrangler to get gauges built at historic site

Detroit Manufacturing Systems LLC broke ground August 24 on a 102,000-square foot facility dedicated to making instrument clusters for various automakers and models, including the next-generation, 2017 Jeep Wrangler.

The plant will be located atop the same spot where every Jeep made between 1940 and 2001 was produced. Originally home to the Willys-Overland Company, the land housed the factory that built the Willys MB during WWII and later housed AMC and Chrysler’s Jeep operations. Many Jeep enthusiasts consider this “hallowed ground” and the birthplace of the brand. Today, the only remnant is a smokestack left for posterity. The red brick structure still reads “OVERLAND,” spelled out in black bricks.

The DMS facility will neighbor another factory in Overland Industrial Park, Dana Inc.’s new advanced axle factory. Dana will also be providing axles and other parts to FCA’s Toledo Assembly Complex some three miles down the street. The 2017 Wrangler will likely be riding on these Dana axles. Both companies are building around the smokestack, leaving it to stand for decades to come.

DMS expects to be fully operational by the summer of 2017 and initially employ at least 140 people. The growth of another 100 workers is projected by 2020. And interestingly enough, DMS CEO Andra Rush says she remembers making “midnight deliveries” to the old Jeep assembly plant before its decommissioning in 2001 and demolition in 2010. Rush, a former truck driver, launched her own trucking company in 1984, Rush Trucking Corp., of which she is still CEO.

DMS currently supplies dashboards, gauge clusters, door panels, and center consoles to several Ford products, including the F-Series trucks, Expedition, Explorer, Focus, Mustang, and Taurus.

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FCA's U.S. Factories Will Only Make Trucks, SUVs

FCA’s U.S. Factories Will Only Make Trucks, SUVs

Dart & 200 make way for higher-profit, more popular models

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is reallocating its U.S. production facilities in a move that aligns the automaker to make higher-profit, more popular trucks, SUVs, and crossovers. The news comes after FCA spelled the end of the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans when FCA failed to secure a partnership with another automaker for building the cars. With both cars soon gone and the Dodge Viper ending production after the 2017 model year, all of FCA’s U.S.-based operations will manufacture pickups and SUVs.

FCA’s other sedan models, the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, along with the Dodge Challenger coupe, are built in Canada, while the Fiat 500 is built in Mexico.

The Ram Brand will carry is full lineup of pickups, including the 1500, 2500, 3000, and commercial pickups and vans. Jeep will build its Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, Cherokee, Renegade, and an upcoming compact crossover. The Durango SUV will be the sole Dodge product still built in the U.S.

"By the time we finish with this, hopefully, all of our production assets in the United States – if you exclude Canada and Mexico from the fold – all those U.S. plants will be producing either Jeeps or Ram," FCA’s CEO Sergio Marchionne told Wall Street analysts during a conference call Wednesday, July 27, according to the Detroit Free Press.

It will be the Ram pickups that will take up residence at FCA’s Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, the Dart and 200’s current home. Ram’s current plant, the Warren Truck Assembly Plant 10 miles down the road in Detroit, will then be outfitted to build the upcoming Jeep Wagoneer and high-end Grand Wagoneer models. Jeep’s upcoming, still unnamed, small crossover will be built in Toluca, Mexico, however.

This unprecedented move is certainly a big bet with high stakes. Marchionne is essentially putting all FCA’s eggs in the pickup and SUV basket. Should fuel prices unexpectedly rise in dramatic fashion, the automaker might have itself a problem.

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Jeep Plants Getting $1 Billion Investment From FCA

Jeep Plants Getting $1 Billion Investment From FCA

FCA playing musical chairs with its assembly plants, then paying for updates

The entire Jeep Brand’s assembly lines are scheduled for updates according to news from The Detroit Bureau. FCA is planning an extensive overhaul of its North American assembly plants with a total investment of a billion dollars split between each location. The updates are estimated to create 1,000 new jobs in the company, as well.

The Jeep Wrangler’s Toledo Assembly Complex is slated to receive the largest portion of investments and attention. It will receive a complete re-tooling in preparation for the next-generation Wrangler scheduled for 2018. A total of $700 million is allotted for the project. Toledo will also be designed to build the Wrangler-based pickup truck that’s been all but official confirmed by Jeep brass.

The Belvidere Assembly Plant in Belvidere, Illinois near Chicago will receive $350 million of the investment. The plant will re-tool and become the new home of the Jeep Cherokee, which is currently built with the Wrangler in Toledo. This will help boost Wrangler production and make room for the Wrangler pickup. It’s estimated 300 new jobs will be created here.

Moving from the Belvidere plant is the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot. Both these models will be soon be replaced by a single, all-new Jeep model slotted just below the Renegade in size.

In yet another shakeup, previous reports not FCA’s CEO, Sergio Marchionne, says the upcoming Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will be built at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Detroit, while its current product, the Ram 1500, is moved to the Sterling Heights Assembly plant in 2018. Currently the Sterling Heights plant is slowly producing the slow-selling Chrysler 200.

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Jeep's Mike Manley Spills News on Compass, Patriot Replacement

Jeep’s Mike Manley Spills News on Compass, Patriot Replacement

New crossover to debut in September in Brazil, will overlap outgoing models in showrooms for a few months

Jeep Brand CEO Mike Manley recently divulged details regarding several of Jeep’s upcoming models, including the long-overdue replacement for the Compass and Patriot compact SUVs, known internally within Jeep as the C-SUV.

Speaking with Automotive News, Manley said the yet-unnamed crossover will debut in late September in Brazil, followed by a U.S. launch in November at the LA Auto Show. The small crossover will retain either the Compass or Patriot names and arrive in showrooms early within 2017. The Brazil debut was chosen to help celebrate FCA’s new Pernambuco assembly plant. The facility will also build the Renegade for Latin American counties.

Manley then divulged engineering news regarding the C-SUV’s structure. He says the new crossover will share the Renegade’s chassis, its FWD-based drivetrain, and the disconnecting rear axle on 4WD units. Engine choices are still unknown. Manley also revealed U.S.-spec versions will be built in Toluca, Mexico. This is a departure from the Compass’ current birthplace in Belvidere, Illinois – perhaps allowing Jeep to build the upcoming Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs.

Speaking of those, Manley mentioned the pair shouldn’t be thought of as separate vehicles, but rather a trim levels. This is counter to many reports suggesting the Grand Wagoneer would be lager than its less-luxurious brother.

The iconic Wrangler was also mentioned, with Manley saying, “To be honest with you, I’m delighted in the way it’s turning out, not just from a styling point of view, but from an overall point of what Wrangler stands for, I’m very pleased.” Manley admitted large changes are coming to the Wrangler in terms of fuel economy, weight, and aerodynamics. Thankfully he reassured Wrangler loyalists, saying, “…at the end of the day, it needs to be recognized as Wrangler.”

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