Marchionne updates progress on aluminum-intensive next generation Wrangler image

Amid all the talk surrounding automotive safety, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne paused a little from defending the way his company conducts recalls to talk about the next generation Jeep Wrangler.

During a discussion largely surrounding NHTSA’s decision to criticize the actions taken by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 20 recalls covering 10 million vehicles and the upcoming July 2 public hearing to heed the concerns, FCA chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne also talked about the crucial launch of the upcoming generation of the Jeep icon – the Wrangler. The top manager disclosed that a “large portion” of the next-generation model would be made of aluminum though not entirely, following in the footsteps of larger rival Ford and its F-150 best-selling pickup truck. According to the company, making an all-aluminum Wrangler would not justify the costs, as they found after numerous tests and simulations. “Because of the difference in cost, not just the new material but the actual assembly process, I think we can do almost as well without doing it all-aluminum,” commented the CEO.

The next-generation Wrangler – among the few ubiquitous models that don’t require generations to change as fast as the usual sport utility vehicle – has been speculated for years, and materials have been a heated debate point as the third largest US automaker needs to shed excess weight from the all-wheel drive model to achieve the toughening fuel economy levels mandated by the government. The partially-aluminum build could work out in favor of Toledo, the historic build site for the model, though Marchionne said the current production location is just one of “at least” two considered for the next generation.