Originally Posted by trw
seriously getting sick of hearing this every. single. time. Jeep works on a new Wrangler, it never happens. There's more info out there suggesting otherwise anyway. First off, Jeep already stated JK production was extended to 2018, why the hell is this still saying 2016? that right there removes all credibility from this STORY. The engineers have gone on record saying the Wrangler will always have solid axles and Marchionne himself even highlighted how precious the Wrangler is in every way possible. One story without even so much as a viable quote and everyone cries bloody murder...... Jeep has indeed diluted the rest, but in order to improve overall efficiency, the product line can afford one to remain as it is (aka Wrangler)...
This story came from an interview with Jeep brand honcho Michael Manley, published in Automotive News last week. Manley specifically discussed the 2016, not 2018 Wrangler. He claimed the many issues related to weight reduction, MPG standards that are coming means they'll have to consider all options. This has blindsided the 4x4 press, because there had been a previous statement that JK would stay in production as configured (i.e., solid axles) through the 2018 model year. (See the lastest 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility intro by Phil Howell.) Think about the "2018" Corporate statement for a second. That would mean a JK production run of 11 model years, almost 12 calendar years. That's virtually unheard of in this era. Those of us who've worked for auto manufacturers took that earlier statement with a bit of skepticism. I felt it was more a way to get the JK successor, and the potential suspension controversy off the table for a little while so they could deal with the decidedly negative reception they were getting to the spec of the 2014 Cherokee. (Moab reveal of the "Cherokee" was virtually 100% negative and the booing hasn't stopped.) Manley is, in my view anyway, bringing it up again because, as some of us suspected, the JK successor will be here in '16 and it's either going to be IFS or fully independent. If 2016 is trully the launch year for JK's successor, the suspension design decision was made a long time ago and they've just been pulling our collective chains.
Car manufacturers work to the bottom line, often with detached management that could care less what the knowledgeable buyer wants. In fact, the executives are often comtemptuous of their own buyers, convinced they have no clue what's under the paint. The consensus in some quarters is that Jeep's Fiat management is going to "badge engineer" as many Fiat platforms as possible into "Jeeps" . Thus comes the "Cherokee", which is based upon a European Alfa Romeo, also used for the Dodge Dart. Jumping ahead to JK successor, some wags feel Fiat wants to leverage the full independent of Grand Cherokee in the JK redesign. Pretty good argument for that. Costs have been amortized, there are huge weight savings, and big gains in highway ride & handling are possible. Read the negatives in Consumer Reports regarding JK and you'll have a good idea what gets discussed in the JK successor product development meetings. If the JK successor makes it across a gravel parking lot in Bloomfield Hills without spilling Sergio's latte, hey, its a go.
Me? I think at a minimum IFS is a slam dunk, and Fiat will have to feel the sting of buyers departing for Toyota, Ford, etc. to get the point. However, if all that's at risk is your fun weekends in Moab, or some small potatoes aftermarket vendors like PSC, hey, game on. (25 years working for a couple manufacturers makes one look at these things with a cynical eye!)