Customizing is synonymous with owning a Jeep. There are thousands of companies that not only exist but thrive because of the culture surrounding Jeep customizing. As a result of customizing culture around Jeeps, they have come to be known as the LEGO truck. Literally, every piece on a Wrangler can be bought in its OEM form or an aftermarket spec from some third party seller. This is what makes Jeeps so legendary and valuable. Well, all that may be changing soon. Jeep is planning to offer in-house customizing from the factory.
What will the Jeep custom house look like?
Autoblog reports that Jeep is investing $23 million into building an onsite customizing house for factory Jeeps. Jeep says they are planning to incorporate 300 new jobs for the new facility. While this is exciting news for many, the aftermarket shops and outfitters are likely sweating up a storm to see if people will prefer their shocks, tires, and aux lights from the third party folks or the factory.
The facility itself will repurpose the old Textileather vinyl factory near Jeep’s main factory in Toledo, OH. After the site was abandoned in 2013, the property was seen as worthless. The factory laid off hundreds of people after it closed. Jeep was allowed to buy the property for only $1 and is planning on hiring several hundred, which must come as a relief for the workers in the area. Autoblog mentions that the facility will be run by a supplier who has yet to be named, but many believe Mopar could be the mysterious partner.
What will the new Jeep custom house provide?
Future factory custom options might include custom wheels, tires, lighting, running boards, and even custom logos and paint schemes. Of course, the main focus for the custom Jeeps will be for customers to order a purpose-built off-roader from the factory. Jeep currently offers option packages like the Rubicon with bigger tires, higher ground clearance, and specialty driving modes, but that is not what a real custom Jeep is about. People spend years building their custom Jeeps piece by piece.
Will the factory customs be able to feel personal?
People build custom Jeeps to be more capable, sure, but the real reason is people want to feel the pride and ownership of their ride looking and feeling like nothing else. I had a Wrangler for 11 years and loved every new piece I put on it because no one else would have exactly the same set of parts.
I know there is more to Jeep than just the Wrangler and the Gladiator, but the truth is, these two models will be at the heart of this facility. The Wrangler and Gladiator are far, and away the most customized vehicles Jeep sells (if not the most commonly customized vehicles, period). However, that is not to say that Jeep wouldn’t happily let you buy a customized Renegade or Grand Wagoneer.
The big question is…
Will the factory take over the smaller aftermarket sellers? I know I would hate to see that, and I’d wager the majority of the Jeep community would agree. Obviously, the smaller sellers will have parts by brands that Jeep wouldn’t carry, hopefully keeping their corner of the market intact. I’m sure there are plenty of folks who would enjoy the ease and peace of mind that comes with ordering custom stuff from the factory, and it all falling under warranty and all that. I get it. All I’m saying is if we don’t start seeing old CJ graphics packages like the Golden Eagels and Laredo, Jeep gonna hear from me.