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WranglerComposite 2001 Jeep Wrangler Test
Posted by mike on 1999/11/15 0:00:00 (1079) reads

From The Toledo Blade...

Environment-minded Jeep Wrangler customers may favor rigs covered by recyclable plastic, a feature selected hard-topped 2001 models will have, but DaimlerChrysler AG's hopes of making entire vehicle bodies from the dull-finished material could be dashed, some at local dealerships say.

The Toledo Jeep Assembly Plant will make up to 5,000 Wranglers a year, starting with the 2001 model year, with white thermoplastic hardtops to help determine whether other auto-body parts - hoods, fenders, doors - can be made from a process billed as an low-cost, lightweight alternative to steel. The plant annually makes about 90,000 Wranglers.

Color can be added to the hardtops when the plastic is molded, eliminating costs and pollution associated with factory paint shops, and the lightweight material helps boost fuel efficiency, said DaimlerChrysler spokesman Scott Fosgard.

"If it works, it will revolutionize the way cars and trucks are made," he said. "Every other alternative to steel is much more expensive."

The automaker, Mr. Fosgard added, must overcome two hurdles before making entire vehicles from thermoplastic: safety and appearance. Early crash testing indicates the plastic is as safe as or safer than steel, but whether customers will accept vehicles made with a matte, unpainted material is another question, he said.

Wranglers already come with matte-finished hardtops made from a different plastic, and their typically environment-conscious owners will welcome a recyclable alternative, said Mark Campbell, general sales manager for Bowling Green Jeep Lincoln Mercury. He plans to promote the new hardtops.

"It's a good selling point," he said.

All Wranglers have roll bars that are designed to support the vehicle's weight if it tips over, so the roof does not need to be very strong. Company officials said the new roofs would be just as safe as existing roofs.

But taking thermoplastic body parts beyond Wrangler roofs might cause problems for safety-minded customers, Mr. Campbell said. Others questioned whether customers will accept a flat finish.

Some DeLorean owners had their 1980s stainless-steel gems painted because they didn't like the finish, said Chuck Gildenmeister, general manager of Gildenmeister Motor Co. in Bellevue, which sells Jeeps.

"It just didn't have the sheen of your typical car finish," he said.

Another challenge will be making plastic auto-body parts with a perfect finish without paint, said David Cole, director of the Center for the Study of Automotive Trans portation at the University of Michigan.

Customers, he said, have accepted plastic-paneled Chevrolet Corvettes for years, and they like Saturn's composite doors, but parts on those models are painted.

For the entire article, click here.

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Poster Thread
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Eddie
here is my comment
I like this idea. Although rust is not a problem where I live, plastic is not affected by rust. Plastics can be made flexible and dent resistent, a good feature for those who mainly bought a Jeep to go off road. Maybe the composite body should not be standard but optional.

Poster Thread
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: greg
here is my comment I think if chrysler wants to try the plastic bodyparts on just a few models per new car lot in America, that's one thing, however if they do this to all makes they produce out of nowhere one year without warning to consumers, I believe this would dramatically reduce their sales of wranglers because when a new loaded wrangler tops out at about 20-28 thousand dollars, people who know that they want their entire money's worth will want to still see quality steel parts, quality leather, quality everything on the Jeep just as they are built today and yesterday! So I hope that the plastic parts and Hard tops are only going to be optional for those who order them that way! But keep building them year after year with the awesome tradition in Jeeps as we know them today, just as they are now please... thanks Greg.....
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