by Jeff Gilbert
WWJ AutoBeat Reporter
Chrysler’s Jeep brand is showing off some very extreme vehicles that are heading to an extreme event.
The six “Moparized” Jeeps will be taken to Utah later this month for the annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari, an off roading adventure, drawing thousands of enthusiasts to a small desert town.
“For Jeep, it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to let our designers and engineers try and experiment with new things, put new concepts out there” said Jeep Brand CEO Mike Manley. “We get direct feedback from all of those customers on the spot. They give us input. They give us advice.”
That’s why Jeep is so heavily invested in this event. Manley says they show off some interesting new ideas for the participants, and they also work to get ideas from those who are into off-roading.
“These people really love their Jeeps, love their Wranglers, love their Grand Cherokees,” he said. “And, they know we’re there. We go there every single year.”
Manley says some of the attributes they are showing may turn up in future Jeep brand vehicles. It’s possible, for example, that a future Wrangler may have a more powerful engine, much like the “Renegade” version they are showing with a 475 horsepower Hemi engine.
Chrysler is also discussing bringing diesel engines to Jeep vehicles sold in North America. Jeep diesels are already available in Europe.
Also, some of the ideas may go into kits that will be made available by Chrysler’s Mopar parts division. They do plan to have a kit available this summer that will allow owners to transform a Wrangler into a small pickup truck.
It’s all part of a conversation that Jeep likes to have with its owners, says brand CEO Mike Manley.
“It’s their brand. We talk about Jeep being the first social network, before social networking became a trend. Because, it was the brand developed by the people.”