Why would Fiat Chrysler try to bring together two segments, SUVs and pickups that have been largely independent for years?
For beginners, FCA wants to expand the lineup of Jeep, one of the leading companies, hottest car brands in the last decade. When Fiat bought Chrysler after a structured bankruptcy in 2009, then-CEO Sergio Marchionne largely built the future of his company on expanding the Jeep brand. The strategy was extremely successful. In 2009, Jeep scored less than 300,000 vehicles in the US. Less than a decade later, Jeep's US sales are about to exceed 1 million vehicles.
"The Jeep brand is as strong as never before," said Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds auto-website analyst. "It's the best-selling SUV in America, and they'll be using pickup trucks to expand that portfolio."
Jeep is not simply picking up on the growing American demand for pickup trucks. It targets buyers of lifestyle shoppers who want a smaller pickup to throw stuff in the flatbed while having a model that stands out from other pickups on the market.
"This really gives them the opportunity to take advantage of this lifestyle truck buyer who is looking for off-road capabilities and some towing abilities next to the bed," said Acevedo.
Does it work?
The opinions are mixed, which is actually a good indication that Jeep can be good with the Gladiator when it goes on sale early next year. Bear in mind that the models with polarizing styling have the best chance to stand out and attract buyers.
"The brand has to stand out and the vehicle lines of this brand have to stand out," said Kuniskis. "We think that absolutely breaks the mold."