Jeep Plans Wrangler Pickup with Diesel and Hybrid Powertrains – Big Deal?
One of the big news items recently is FCA confirming not only is a Jeep Wrangler pickup on the horizon, but also a diesel and hybrid powertrain for those trucks. Could this truck finally force Toyota’s hands or is it just a niche product?
If you didn’t hear the news, basically FCA’s CFO Richard Palmer and CEO Sergio Marchionne both confirmed, on an investor conference call, the Wrangler will be offered as a pickup and it will be offered with a diesel and hybrid powertrain.
Palmer went further to say, “Jeep is the bedrock of this business plan.”
There was a bit more to the call including Sergio stating they will look for a manufacturing partner for their compact cars in order to expand production of trucks and SUVs. Sergio sees the growth of trucks and SUVs as a permanent shift in customer’s buying habits and cars are on the way out.
If you have been paying attention, a Jeep Wrangler diesel will join the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon Diesel as mid-size trucks with that engine type.
The Nissan Frontier could join this duo if they decide to go with the Cummins powered concept from last year’s Chicago Auto Show.
Add it all up and this potentially makes the Toyota Tacoma as the only mid-size truck without a diesel option.
What is interesting here to me is what would Toyota do if those trucks took off. Frankly, Toyota has had consistent sellers in both the mid-size and full-size segments. Like it or not, the Tacoma has been a sales phenomena for years considering it was so long in the tooth, yet continued to sell well. On the other hand, the Tundra, again like it or not, has been a pretty strong seller for Toyota with 8-10k units sold each month. For a truck maker with one manufacturing facility, one could argue this is pretty good.
However, new competition with an emphasis on truck production along with more manufacturing capacity could really challenge Toyota’s truck offerings. If this happens, one has to wonder if Toyota executives will mount a charge or sit quietly.
If I was a betting man, I would bet Toyota would mount a serious charge. Consider this, when the Camry was seriously challenged by the Elantra, Toyota did a full refresh just 3 years into a new generation and turned it around in a year. This was really unheard of at the time and could have paved the way for dramatic changes mid-generation.
Whether you think the Tundra is doing good or needs a lot of work, one thing is clear. The pressure is mounting on Toyota to respond. Will they or won’t they remains the question.
Filed Under: Auto News