April '20

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46 THE SHOP APRIL 2020 $40,000-$50,000 to buy a factory Jeep and then sink another $10,000 of aftermarket upgrades into the build—but they're selling, so it shows the power of the brand. Personally, I feel the JL Rubicon trim is the only one that's really worth the money for its 4x4 capability in stock form, given the upgrades at the point of purchase— Dana 44 lockers, a stiffer spring and shock combo, really cool fenders and a nicer inte- rior package. I think that sticker price is partly the reason why we continue to see more JKs than JLs rolling into our location. CHAMP: Dealers are hog-tied. There's a great deal of inventory, specifi- cally a huge supply of 2019 models as the 2020s are rolling in—much more than they ever had before, that's for sure. As far as strategies to move that inventory, Jeep has never incentivized the purchase before and I don't know if they will start now, but they certainly need to do something. They've raised the price tremendously— something we hear from our customers all the time—and they drop anywhere between $10,000-$30,000 in aftermarket upgrades on top of the purchase price. So, yeah, I think we're near the top when you consider a Rubicon build we just did for $80,000 and it wasn't even anything crazy—these factory prices, I think, narrow our customer base in the aftermarket. As it applies to those who are paying top dollar for the new JLs and then investing thousands more in aftermarket upgrades, are they actually wheeling these highly capable 4x4s or are they the mall crawlers of tomorrow? SMITH: Based on what I know and what I see in my own shop, I'd say 75%- plus use their Jeep as a show vehicle or daily driver, not as something they take out and wheel. And we see the aftermarket manu- facturers catering to that customer in their product development, right? There's been multiple times I've made design recommendations based on what I appreciate as an off-roader, but then went down the rabbit-hole conversation with company reps that it isn't what actually sells—sure, the look sells, but the design and functionality have to be blended in a way that actually appeals to a customer who, in all actuality, very likely won't ever abuse that product in a true off-road setting. CHAMP: My core customer spends $60,000-$70,000 to personalize, wants the creature comforts and treats this vehicle as an everyday sport utility so, no, it isn't being wheeled. Talk to me about what a new JL means for the JK aftermarket. The door is wide open for ongoing JK potential, HIGH & MIGHTY DECKED +++++++++++++++++ How have the new Jeeps affected the aftermarket? "When you end up running away with arguably the best Super Bowl com- mercial of the year (with Bill Murray!) you know the market for this truck is hot and timing is right. The rise of overlanding has created the perfect opportunity. Jeep is brilliant to create a capable vehicle that looks awful stock so that the aftermarket can turn it into the badass rig it wants to be." Your hot Jeep product is … "The DECKED Truck Bed Storage system has been a great fit for a lot of new Gladiator owners, in part because it provides secure storage sealed from the elements for the kind of rescue gear and off-road and overland essentials this segment is frequently needing to transport. The minimal bed lends itself to a solution that allows for securing cargo to the deck and offers a flat surface." – Greg Randolph, VP smoke & mirrors WARN INDUSTRIES ++++ How have the new Jeeps affected the aftermarket? "The Gladiator definitely has mass appeal. The hardcore wheeler segment has slowed some, so nowadays it's a new breed of off-roader who wants their rig to look awesome and perform. The Gladiators look good with 40s and are drivable straight from work to the trail, just like a Wrangler. Plus, they can haul your gear more easily, so there's definitely broad appeal." Your hot Jeep product is … "We offer winches and winch bum- pers for the new JL and Gladiator. One thing to remember is that Wranglers will always be boxy and tight with little stock storage, so any company that continues to best utilize every nook and cranny of the Wrangler will do well." – Corby Phillips, director of sales The Jeep Wrangler JL provides enhanced drivability and an overall better customer experi- ence—as Jeeps have evolved from dedicated off-road vehicles to everyday drivers, that's important for shops to recognize. (Photo courtesy FORCE Customs)

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