Has the pickup truck war found a new front?
With Fiat Chrysler's release of the Gladiator, the sales phenomenon known as the Jeep Wrangler has threatened to butt heads with the sales phenomenon known as the midsize truck segment. And though Jeep's truck more closely competes with the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Ford Ranger, and Toyota Tacoma in terms of size, FCA seems to think the Gladiator is in another segment entirely thanks to its rugged Wrangler-inspired styling and off-road prowess.
In fact, Ford is so convinced that Jeep has stumbled upon a new niche that it's working on another midsize truck competitor despite the fact it already builds one. The rumor was uncovered by Automobile, which itself cites findings from industry research firm AutoForecast Solutions.
According to the rumor, Ford is eyeing the Gladiator and planning its own response, which could come in the form of a mid-size truck designed for off-road trails more than it is for surface streets. The truck would be styled after the upcoming and supposedly rugged-looking Bronco SUV, which is set for a sales debut around 2021.
Since the Bronco is supposed to compete with the Jeep Wrangler by being a rugged and off-road friendly lifestyle vehicle - removable body panels and all - the hypothetical Bronco pickup truck will utilize the SUV's body style (like the Gladiator uses the Wrangler's) and have removable roof panels of its own (like the Gladiator does). AutoForecast Solutions alleges that the Bronco truck will hit the market in 2024, with its development team starting on the project shortly before the Gladiator hit the market.
Like the Bronco and the Ranger on which it's based, the Bronco truck would ride on a body-on-frame chassis like the Gladiator and will also feature four doors.
If the rumors are true, then Ford's move is an interesting one. It means that the Blue Oval is afraid that Fiat Chrysler is becoming more aggressive in the truck battle, especially since the Ram 1500 recently overtook the Silverado to become the second-best-selling truck after the Ford F-150, and since FCA is in the process of building a truck to compete with the Ranger. They also give a reason for Ford's refusal to bring the Ranger Raptor (which is sold in foreign markets) to the US, since if the company really does have a more rugged mid-size truck in the pipeline, then the Ranger Raptor would certainly cannibalize its sales.