Jeep’s Big New Plan: Build What Buyers Want
Never in the annals of Jeep history have there been so many Jeep executives willing to go that far out on a limb. To actually build what enthusiasts want is borderline blasphemy. It has never been up to the buyers; it is up to Jeep what it will build for you.
“There are tons of people that I’m sure would love to buy a V8 Gladiator”
Of course, we’re kidding. But Muscle Cars and Trucks recently talked with Jeep Gladiator senior brand manager Brandon Grimus. “If you scour the forums, there are tons of people that I’m sure would love to buy a V8 Gladiator.” Ya think?
MotorBiscuit posed the question back in March. It became clear back then that Gladiator buyers were paying tens of thousands of dollars and voiding their warranties to have aftermarket shops stab Hemis and Hellcats into Gladiators.
“The crowd requesting a V8 Wrangler, their voices have gotten progressively louder over the last 10 years,” said Grimus. “And just to give you an idea of how much demand there is for a V8, there were seven aftermarket companies across the country doing V8 upfits at a really, really high price with no factory warranty or engineering. Most of them have wait lists over a year-plus… we might as well take some of that business.”
“Build what we want to sell, not what you necessarily want to buy”
While commendable, it is a shame that some automakers don’t always recognize what their own customers want. For decades it has been the mentality of Detroit-based companies to both ignore and embrace their buyers. For different reasons their mantra has been to “Build what we want to sell, not what you necessarily want to buy.”
Grimus says that the Jeep Wrangler 392, Wrangler EcoDiesel, and 4xe, are all a response to customer demand. Cementing Jeep’s newfound inspiration has been the Wrangler 392. It has seen especially strong demand in spite of its $73,500 price tag. That’s new Raptor and Corvette money.
So where does this lead for a V8 Gladiator? Jeep is already close to bringing out a 4xe version of the Gladiator. But that is in keeping with the direction all automakers are headed; electrification.
What drivetrain will the Gladiator xe have?
The Gladiator xe will be powered by the same drivetrain as the Wrangler xe since they are built on the same chassis and assembly line. So that means a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder combined with two electric motors. That equates to 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque.
Though the market is headed towards electrification, buyers still want a V8. Will the 4xe be as popular as a V8 Gladiator? We would guess not based on the general EV penetration across all brands and car lines. Yet, Jeep is putting it ahead of any V8-powered Gladiator.
But given what Grimus has said and that the Wrangler and Gladiator tied at the hip, we expect the V8 version of the Gladiator to come soon. At least for the near term, the only thing that will limit its sales will be the hefty price tag.