Out with the Old Wrangler: Last JK Rolls off Assembly Line to Make Way for Jeep Truck [News]

Last JK ends 12-year production run
[Photo: FCA]

On Friday, April 28, 2018, the final Jeep Wrangler JK rolled off the Toledo, Ohio assembly line. 

Over a production run spanning nearly 12 years, the last JK generation of the Wrangler amassed 2.16 million units. That’s a massive milestone for any car, and particularly one with such a devoted following. All things must come to an end, however, and that just happened for what’s new the past generation. A 2018 Jeep Wrangler JK Rubicon Unlimited – the 2,165,678th and last JK – completed the production run yesterday.

The JK was the third generation “Wrangler” model, a model which followed on the heritage established by the CJ “Civilian Jeep” models produced after World War II. The preceding YJ and TJ models had a strong reputation, but were never as strong of sellers as the JK. What changed? Apart from the typical evolution from the TJ to the JK – more refinement, more power, bigger size – there was one big game changer. Four doors. The “Unlimited” models emerged sporting two extra doors, which made the Wrangler a much more practical proposition for daily drivers.

Thanks to the Wrangler JK, Jeep became a more recognizable brand in the marketplace. It was one of FCA’s best-selling and most popular models. Last year, FCA sold more than 190,000 JKs. Compare that to 2005 – the last year of the TJ – where then DaimlerChrysler just 79,017 examples.

Making way for the JL, JT

Of course, while the Wrangler JK meets the end of its production run, we have the new Wrangler JL here to take its place. Not only that, but the JK’s physical production in the Toledo plant will be supplanted by the new Jeep Truck. The truck, colloquially known as the “Scrambler” – a tribute to the CJ8 Scrambler of the 1980s – should begin production by the end of this year. It will emerge as a 2019 model. FCA spent $4.5 billion expand the company’s U.S. manufacturing base to accommodate larger JL and JT production. At full capacity, the Toledo plant should be able to produce as many as 340,000 vehicles a year.

Now, there is some unfortunate news. While the production line transitions to the new JT, FCA will temporarily lay off around 850 employees. That should indeed be a temporary move, however, as demand for the Wrangler has continued to grow, as will demand for its truck cousin, certainly. March 2018 was the best sales month for Wrangler in the nameplate’s history, as well as the best March for FCA (then DaimlerChrysler) in 17 years.

Check out our video below as we take on Hummer Hill in the old JK and brand new JL!