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Jeep May Try to Revive Market for Smaller Trucks

November 23, 2004

The Chrysler Group announced on November 16 that it was considering building its first new Jeep pickup truck in more than a decade as part of a broader effort by automakers to rekindle interest in small to midsize pickups, according to the New York Times.The company, a division of DaimlerChrysler, unveiled sketches of a prototype Jeep pickup, called the Gladiator, that is modeled after Jeep's signature sport/utility vehicle, the Wrangler. In recent years, demand for the largest pickups has soared, threatening to crowd smaller pickup trucks out of the market. But automakers are not ready to abandon those smaller vehicles. This year, Chrysler started selling a redesigned version of its Dodge Dakota pickup truck, and Chevrolet, GMC, and Nissan have all recently released small to midsize pickups. Next year, Honda plans to start selling its first pickup, a smaller truck called the Ridgeline.Even so, the new small and mid-size pickups face an unenthusiastic market. Sales of those vehicles have declined 47 percent since 1999, according to Wards AutoInfoBank, an industry data and research service. But automakers are still convinced that they can cultivate interest.
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