Jeep left the North American pickup truck market in 1992 when it stopped selling the Comanche. The brand has, however, teased us with numerous pickup truck concepts in the last decade. Jeep president and CEO Mike Manley has expressed interest in putting such a vehicle into production.
"That's [compact and midsize pickups] a segment that I'm very curious about," Manley told PickupTrucks.com during the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee media drive. "I know it's had a rough time here in the U.S. but globally it still seems to be an important sector."
Manley was quick to mention that Jeep has kept a steady flow of pickup concepts coming over the last ten years. In 2003 a production-ready Jeep Scrambler made an appearance at the North American Dealers Association but was pulled after a few hours. Jeep unveiled the Gladiator concept at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show, the Jeep JT at the 2007 SEMA show in Las Vegas, and the J8 Sarge and the NuKizer 715 concept, each shown at the Jeep Safari in Moab, in 2008 and this year, respectively.
As CEO, Manley is trying to make money with the Jeep brand, and looking for opportunities to expand it for profitability and for its storied heritage. Back in 2005, we said the Gladiator concept was more worthy of the Jeep name than the Compass, Commander, or Patriot. Given the Gladiator concept's critical reception, we likely weren't alone on that thought.
"I know there's a lot of elasticity in the Jeep brand globally, so we're not limiting our search for new vehicle opportunities or new markets," Manley said.
With the slew of Jeep pickup truck concepts and Manley's openness to new vehicles, could a production Jeep pickup truck be in the works? We'll have to keep our eyes peeled at upcoming auto shows to see, but we sure hope so.
What do you think? Is a pickup truck a smart move for Jeep?