Camp Jeep 2007 - Engineer Roundtable

Date 2007/8/2 9:29:00 | Topic: Miscellaneous

ScramblerKen attended Camp Jeep 2007 and has been providing us with some reports of the event. In today's post, he covers the Engineer Roundtable - a chance for Jeep owners to ask questions to the Jeep engineers who actually design and build Jeeps for Chrysler Group.

One of the best ways to get an idea on what Jeep is planning on or developing is to attend the Engineer round table and visit the Engineer tent at Camp Jeep. My hat is off to Jeep for giving us the opportunity to talk directly to the engineers. This is actually very risky, but Jeep obviously preps their engineers before the event as getting any real juicy info directly out of their mouths is close to impossible. On the other hand, if you listen careful, you do get hints of what lies in the future.

Please be careful from what you read in this article as this is simply some of my observations, and none should be taken as hard facts. On the other hand, much of this is coming directly from the horseís mouthÖ

First off, Jeep must have some interest in building a Jeep pickup truck. Both the JT and the AEV Brute were present, and they were positioned on the main walk way to the entrance to the Engineer tent. I had the opportunity to chat with one of the Product Futures Engineers regarding the JT. Iíll save that information for my last article.

At my round-table, there were close to ten engineers. Iím delighted to say that the Jeep engineers are a fun and enthusiastic group. I think with the release of the Mercedes arm, the group is actually more relaxed. The other big plus I saw is that most of them are also Jeep owners.

Ok, now onto the juicy stuff. Most of the time, the roundtable is some planned questions to us, with the engineers sometimes fielding our questions, or the engineers asking additional questions. Here are a few highlights:

Diesel engine: In the past, this was usually asked by an audience member. This time it was a question to us in the form of how much additional cost would we be willing to pay for a Diesel option. My gut feeling is we are still a few years away before the Wrangler is sold in the US with this option, but if Diesels become accepted in the USA, and then this will become a reality. In the past, usually 1/3 of the group would be interested in a Diesel engine. This year, close to 2/3 of the group was interested.
Alternate Fuel: Because we were discussing the diesel power plant, one of the engineers brought out the fact that by 2012, most Chrysler vehicles will be able to use E85 fuel. Personally, this is ok, but considering most vehicles get less MPG with E85, and with the issues of corn futures, Iíd rather Jeep concentrate on giving us a good Diesel engine. Heck, there are numerous ways to create bio-diesel fuel, and you would get better MPG than the conventional gas engine.

Replacing the 4wd shift lever: One interesting question was how we would feel if the standard 4WD lever was replaced by electronic controls. Everyone in the group hated the idea. Some of the key reasons to do this are regarding the gear clash that occurs when shifting into 4WD-Low. Normally, you should be slightly moving when you shift into 4WD-Low so the gears can sync up. Jeep has received complaints from customers on this issue, and the simple solution is to switch to an electronic system. My gut feeling is that most of the Jeep line will move to this direction. Even though we were unanimous in that we want the old lever, the engineers seemed somewhat adamant they want to go the electronic direction.

More Electronic Wizardry: Now that the Wrangler has electronic stability control, the Engineers are looking at more ways to tap into this. A couple of ideas include assisting the stability for those of us that hook-up a trailer to our Wrangler. The other ideas revolve around hill descent and hill climbing. Most of these tricks use the brake system to provide these features. All in all, most of this sounds like good ideas, as long as they donít get in the way of the off-road capabilities of the Wrangler or dramatically increase the cost of the vehicle.

Body Style changes: This was somewhat different. We were asked about what we like and donít like about the new Wrangler body. We had a few us complain that the 4-door looks too much like a Hummer H2/H3 especially the way the windows are not as long. A usual debate of who copied who Jeep or Hummer went on. The other interesting part was some of us asked about the JT. But for some info on that, you have to wait until my next article.



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