Back in May, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne's offhand comment that the 2017 Wrangler would move to an aluminum body for weight savings sparked tons of worried speculation among Jeep faithful: Would the venerable 4x4 ditch its tradition-honored body-on-frame construction and go unibody? —folks in the know both inside and outside of Chrysler claim the Wrangler will stay body-on-frame in its upcoming 2017 redesign.
Marchionne's comments also caused worry that Chrysler would have to move Wrangler production to a different plant—the current Toledo, Ohio facility isn't equipped for aluminum body stamping, and alongside the Warren Assembly plant in Detroit, it's one of only two body-on-frame facilities left in Chrysler's portfolio.
You'll note that the charismatic CEO never actually came out and said "the Wrangler will switch to unibody construction." But the mere suggestion was enough to set wheels turning in the rumor machine, and political wheels turning in Toledo.
At this month's Paris auto show, Marchionne again suggested that the next Wrangler will have an aluminum body, and that the Toledo plant wouldn't be able to handle such an upgrade without a very expensive overhaul. When he got back to Chrysler's U.S. headquarters on October 9th, Toldeo Mayor D. Michael Collins and representatives sitting in for Ohio Gov. John Kasich were waiting for him. And this week, Toledo city council approved a $9.4 million land purchase adjacent to the current Wrangler plant, could indicate a deal struck to keep the Jeep's production in Ohio.
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As of right now, it looks like the 2017 Wrangler may have an aluminum body, but according to the folks Automotive News spoke with, it will almost definitely remain body-on-frame. That's a relief for die-hard Wrangler fans who count on body-on-frame trucks to handle the off-roading they like to throw at them.