|If Jeep dealers have their way...|
If Jeep Dealers and factory workers get their wish, perhaps the Gladiator won't be just a concept. From The Toledo Blade:
Jeep dealers want a pickup truck again after more than a decade of having just three models to sell, and Toledo Jeep Assembly Plant workers would love to build one again.
DaimlerChrysler AG will monitor media and public reaction to the Jeep Gladiator pickup to be unveiled today in Detroit as officials decide whether to again make a concept reality. But industry experts say other market factors will play into whether such a vehicle will become part of the automakerís efforts to expand the Toledo-born brand.
The so-called sport-utility truck market offers just three true alternatives: the Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Subaru Baja, and Hummer H2 SUT. Yet the use of crew cabs on pickups such as the Dodge Dakota and Chevrolet Colorado has blurred the lines between SUVs and pickups, widening the field of players, one auto analyst said.
"That is where the true competition is coming from," said Jeff Brodoski of J.D. Power and Associates.
Additional products, pickups or otherwise, are nothing new for Toledo Jeep and the work force currently building the Liberty and Wrangler.
As part of a $2.1 billion expansion of Toledo Jeep, Chrysler is to add a Dodge derivative off the Liberty chassis and a four-door version of the Wrangler as well as redesigns of the existing SUVs.
A team is to begin preparation in March to launch two vehicles next year, and the Liberty will be redesigned in the spring of 2007, said Dan Henneman, Jeep unit chairman for United Auto Workers Local 12.
A Jeep pickup would be both a good seller and a good addition to Toledo Jeep, said Bruce Baumhower, Local 12ís president.
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