Research & Development
Secrets of Jeep's Wrangler paint jobs, details on future Gladiator color options revealed
Bikini, Hellayella, and Punk'n are all colors buyers can request on the exterior of their new Jeep Wrangler. The bursts of bright and daring paint job choices are different than any other vehicle in the Jeep lineup for good reason. It's because Wrangler owners aren't like any other vehicle owners according to Mark Allen, Head of Jeep Design.
To come up with the Wrangler's color palette, the exterior design team works hand in hand with other design studio personnel. It's an organic process that tries not to follow traditional corporate structure - something that works well for Allen and La Shirl Turner, Head of Advance Colors & Materials.
The process takes 12-18 months for the creation of a new paint color while the refresh of an old color shortens that timeline to three to six months.
When developing a new color offering, the team looks at the balance of the paint job variety that Jeep offers after being sparked by inspiration. There are only so many blacks, whites, grays, and silvers - the "vinyl siding collection" Allen affectionately calls it - an automaker needs to have in their lineup.
They also check out what the current trends are, including the Pantone Color of the Year. For 2020, that shade is Classic Blue.
There are limits to what Jeep can do and most of it comes down to logistics. Plants only have the ability to execute so many colors at a time (about 10-12) and customers order colors in a variety of volumes (think less purple more gray). Jeep also likes to have the flexibility to rotate colors rapidly (every three to eight months), which keeps the offerings fresh for Wrangler customers and gives Jeep the ability to flex in and out special edition model colors, something they're keen on doing.
Jeep also takes into account the history of a color. In an interview, Allen said that Jeep receives "a lot of mail" about adding more greens to the Wrangler's color palette. The automaker has a long history with the color thanks to its origins as a military vehicle including Jungle, Forest, and Army Green variants, but traditionally, those colors do not sell well.
Turner says that Jeep also takes a look at colors that were popular in the past and tries to refresh them for modern buyers. Bikini was originally conceived in the 90s and is currently available on the 2020 Wrangler.
Do some of the colors look familiar? Jeep repurposes colors from other parts of the FCA lineup. However, the Jeep team renames the colors for no the reason than, "it's amusing to us" according to Allen. Simple enough.
The cost of the color development and deployment, which may have to be passed on to customers, is also part of the equation. Allen says that Jeep tries to offer, "Nieman Marcus colors at Costco prices." Currently, the pricing of most specialty Jeep paint jobs is under $200 per vehicle.
Other limitations lnclue the availability of the color choices for retractable roof materials (ordered well in advance from a third-party supplier) and whether or not the color works as a full body color.
These factors weren't always part of the equation. "There was a time in our not so distant past that Wrangler got the same colors as trucks," said Allen. New management came in and, with that, a new vision for Wrangler that allowed the design team to open up the color palette options.
Opening up color palette options is something Jeep Gladiator fans should get ready for. With initial Gladiator sales going well, Allen revealed that there are plans to expand the color palette offerings for the pickup truck, in the same vein as what is available on Wrangler.
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