The only thing FCA brought to Detroit was news of upcoming models. We're not mad.
FCA didn’t bring any new models or crazy concepts to the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, but CEO Sergio Marchionne did drop some interesting bits of info while addressing reporters at the show. Automotive News reports that Marchionne confirmed that the upcoming Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will both be body-on-frame. This is a departure from earlier reports that both would be unibody models like the current range-topping Grand Cherokee. It also makes you wonder what SUVs these models will take on. Here's our best guess.
It’s not tough to imagine the Wagoneer targeting the GMC Yukon and the Grand Wagoneer going up against the Escalade. The Escalade is a huge profit driver for GM and is still body-on-frame. The Yukon is bulky as all hell and can get surprisingly expensive as we learned when we test drove one last year. FCA may not be able to take on foreign competition but it can steal sales from its US rivals. In addition to the new info on the Wagoneer models FCA confirmed in a press release distributed the day before the show that the Wrangler pickup is on its way. The new truck was mentioned in passing as the company touted a $1 billion investment in two of its plants.
That money is going to the Warren, Michigan, and Toledo, Ohio, plants to build the new SUVs and pickup. The SUVs will be built at Warren and the Wrangler pickup will be built in Toledo where all Wranglers are made. FCA needs to retool both plants before production can start, estimating that the process will take until 2020. That means the Wagoneers and Wrangler truck will likely debut as 2021 models. The three new models are expected to add 2,000 new jobs, a figure which is sure to please president-elect Donald Trump. Speaking of placating Trump, FCA will move production of the Ram heavy duty truck from Mexico back to the US once the Warren plant has been fully upgraded. (Toyota, are you taking notes?)
Despite not bringing anything of note to Detroit, FCA has still given us plenty to be excited about. Here’s hoping these three new models don’t fall victim to a series of unfortunate delays. We doubt they will since all three are bound to sell like crazy. FCA is buried in debt and needs all the help it can get to climb out of its financial hole. Two new premium SUVs and a mid-size pickup should help the automaker get back in the black. Note: The green Jeep truck seen here is the Gladiator concept, not the upcoming Wrangler pickup. You probably already know this but some people don't...so there.