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Australia to be second largest Jeep Gladiator market

Entertained: When it launches Down Under, the Gladiator will go toe to toe with other lifestyle-focused dual-cab pick-ups, such as Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak.

Due by mid-2020, Jeep’s Gladiator will kick off in high-spec ‘launch edition’ guise

21 May 2019

AUSTRALIA will be the single largest market outside of North America for Jeep’s Gladiator, with unexpectedly strong early interest even raising the prospect of the pick-up serving as one of the brand’s potential bestsellers Down Under.


Speaking to GoAuto last week at the launch of the mechanically related JL Wrangler range, Jeep brand head for Asia Pacific and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Australia president and chief executive Steve Zanlunghi also revealed that the dual-cab 4x4 will be introduced with a special ‘launch edition’ variant when it arrives sometime before the second half of next year.


“Globally, we are forecast to be the number-one country for Gladiator outside of North America,” he said. “We’re seeing good strong early demand.


“(In Australia) it’s really early days… but since the long-lead press launch, we’ve been getting a lot of emails and a lot of people giving us their details… we’ve had dealer prospects specifically because of this vehicle, saying they believe this is going to be a gamechanger in the ute market here in Australia.”


To help stoke that interest, Mr Zanlunghi said that a limited-run launch edition is planned, in line with but not identical to what Jeep did in the United States, where the ‘Gladiator 419’ variant sold out within a day of going on sale despite costing nearly $US20,000 ($A29,000) more than the regular Rubicon flagship.


“We did a special launch edition,” he said. “As the ‘419’ area code (for Toledo, Ohio – where the Jeep is made), of 4190 first-edition versions, available on ‘4/4’ (4x4) day of April 4… we sold out in 24 hours. And that vehicle was $US62,310 ($A90,150) sight unseen – they were not in showrooms.


“So, based on that, when we launch the Gladiator, we will be launching with a special edition. I won’t tell you what the specs are… it won’t necessarily be the exact spec of what the US one was… it will be unique to the range that we will bring in.”


While Mr Zanlunghi refused to divulge any other fresh information about the Gladiator, he did confirm that even the regular models would play in the upper-end of the dual-cab pick-up 4x4 segment, against rivals such as the Ford Ranger Wildtrak and Mercedes-Benz X-Class.


“It will be positioned as a lifestyle pick-up,” he said. “It is a Jeep, it will be the only convertible pick-up in Australia and in the world, it will be the only one where you can remove the doors and lower the windshield. It will also be positioned as one of the most capable utes in Australia.”


Finally, Mr Zanlunghi added that despite the early Gladiator’s early North American success, Australian buyers will not be bumped back to satiate its home-market demand.


“Our indicators (suggest) that it won’t be a problem,” he said. “We are currently still – as of last week – on track for launch date, which I won’t talk about yet.


“The ute market is the number one-market in Australia for the auto industry, and we’ve got a ute coming and it’s called the Gladiator.”


Unveiled late last year at the Los Angeles Auto Show after nearly two decades of false starts with show concepts that never eventuated into production, the JT-series Gladiator will employ a variation of the 212kW/352Nm 3.6-litre Pentastar petrol V6 in six-speed manual or (more likely for Australia) ZF-supplied eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission guises as found in the latest Wrangler.


A derivation of a 194kW/600Nm 3.0-litre V6 diesel is also said to be in the pipeline for the market.

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