Jeep's new pickup a dealer's dream

The Jeep Wrangler, a Fiat Chrysler product, has seen its sales cool in recent months, coming off the model’s best year ever with 240,000 sold in 2018, but the new pickup that’s based on it is the hottest truck in town and could jump-start sales for the brand.

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The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is the brand’s first pickup since 1992 and just starting to roll into showrooms. They’re currently in such demand as production ramps up that some dealers are marking them up as much as $20,000 over list, and that’s for a truck that starts at $35,040. Meanwhile, high-end models, like the Rubicon that can carry a sticker price over $60,000, are being advertised for $80,000 and more.

The Gladiator is built at Jeep’s spiritual home in Toledo, Ohio, in a factory that was revamped as part of a $1 billion investment that includes the retooling of another facility in Warren, Mich., where new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs will begin production in 2021.

Jeep recouped a large amount of that on April. 4, when it took $250 million worth of orders for 4,190 special Launch Edition Gladiators that were only available that day for $60,815 and up.

While it looks like it’s just a Wrangler with a bed, the Gladiator been heavily re-engineered with some parts from the Ram 1500 pickup to improve its payload and towing capabilities but maintains much of the Wrangler’s off-road capability. It enters a competitive midsize pickup segment that includes a rebooted Ford Ranger, which went on sale in January, along with the Chevrolet Colorado and top-selling Toyota Tacoma.

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F FORD MOTOR CO. 15.70 +0.25 +1.62%
GM GENERAL MOTORS CO. 58.00 +0.31 +0.54%
TM TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. 176.27 +0.76 +0.43%

Fiat Chrysler is in talks with France's Renault to create the world's third-biggest automaker, worth $40 billion, and combine forces in the race to make electric and autonomous vehicles.