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Car and Driver: Jeep to Continue Churning Out Old Wrangler As It Starts Building New Ones

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2016 Jeep Wrangler

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Jeep has big plans for the Wrangler 4×4, and not only the highly anticipated next-generation model due in 2017. According to documents uncovered by Automotive News, Jeep will increase Wrangler production capacity at its Toledo, Ohio, plant by 50 percent as the new model is introduced—in part by continuing to build the old Wrangler. For a period of about six months, the current Wrangler will be produced alongside the new version.
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Building old models alongside new ones, while certainly weird, isn’t an entirely uncommon practice; see Chevrolet’s Malibu “Classic” from the early 2000s, the Infiniti Q40 neé old G37 sedan, the Nissan Rogue “Select,” and so on. For Jeep, the conditions apparently are ripe for continuing to build the outgoing Wrangler. The Toledo, Ohio, facility that builds the iconic Wrangler also assembles the unibody Cherokee SUV, and in early 2017 the Cherokee’s unibody assembly line will be converted over a period of six months to a body-on-frame line to build new-generation Wranglers. The Cherokee will be moved to Chrysler’s Belvedere, Illinois, plant that currently assembles Dodge Darts (for now) and the Jeep Compass and Patriot crossovers. During this six-month changeover in Toledo, the old Wrangler’s line will be unaffected, and thus will keep churning out Wranglers. Automakers commonly shuffle production around near the end of a vehicle’s life cycle so as to not lose months of sales while gearing up to build next-generation vehicles.

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Things get interesting in roughly the third quarter of 2017, when Jeep will switch on the new Wrangler line—at the same time leaving the old Wrangler line running for an additional six months until March 2018. Speaking to the production overlap (without elaborating much), Jeep chief Mike Manley tells Automotive News that there is unmet demand around the world including in the U.S. for the Wrangler. We interpret that to mean Jeep hopes to exploit the extra Wrangler capacity provided by the old Wrangler line to serve unmet demand globally. What isn’t immediately clear is how this effects U.S. customers; it isn’t known whether the extra Wranglers would be sold here or abroad. When contacted regarding this story, a Jeep representative declined to comment.

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So what’s to become of the Toledo line building 11th-hour Wranglers? It is highly probable that the old model’s line capacity will be devoted to building new Wrangler variants, including the Wrangler-based pickup truck set to go on sale as a 2018 model, as well as Wranglers with diesel and hybrid powertrains.

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