Higher than anticipated demand for the JK-8 Independence conversion kit, designed to turn a Jeep Wrangler into a pickup truck, led Mopar division president Pietro Gorlier joking that,” Santa Claus is coming early.”
Given that orders for the kits are now outstripping original estimates (400 sales so far versus 250-300), clearly Christmas has arrived early for both Jeep enthusiasts and dealers alike.
It also shows there’s pent up demand for a factory built Jeep pickup, giving further traction to the idea that such a vehicle, based on the Wrangler might materialize down the road.
It’s no secret that Jeep brand president Mike Manley is a fan of the concept and now, Gorlier’s stance seems to echo Manley’s sentiments, the Mopar chief stating that, “when we go to the next generation of the Wrangler, (a pickup) will probably be considered.”
At present, the Wrangler is Jeep’s best selling SUV, so far some 111,045 units have been delivered this year, quite impressive for a vehicle that hasn’t seen a major update since 2006. And, given vehicle life cycles these days, an updated Wrangler probably isn’t too far off.
When it does eventually materialize, based on current demand from the JK-8 kits, having a pickup would no doubt bolster sales of the existing Wrangler lineup. It could also draw in buyers from other small pickups who, next year, will have very few options when it comes to new, compact truck offerings.
In the meantime, Mopar plans on supplying as many JK-8 kits as it can to dealers, though given the size of each package, it’s proving difficult for them to carry a large amount in stock. “The kit is too big and too complex to have too many on the shelf,” remarked Gorlier. That said he’s enthusiastic about the response so far. “It’s exciting for an aftermarket product.”
[Source: Ward's Auto]