Jeep's revamped Wrangler gets its own accessory line
Accessories for Jeep’s 2018 JL Wrangler fill a Mopar display at last fall’s SEMA show. Dealerships have more than 200 accessories to sell to buyers of the redesigned off-roader.
When Jeep’s redesigned 2018 JL Wrangler went on sale this year, the off-roader came with something none of its predecessors had at launch: a line of more than 200 factory-built accessories for dealerships to sell.
The expanded lineup of Jeep performance parts for the JL Wrangler includes favorites, such as a two-inch suspension lift kit and Warn winch, as well as new offerings made for the JL Wrangler, including a roof rack and a tailgate table.
The smorgasbord of accessories from Mopar, FCA’s in-house parts and service brand, result from hard lessons learned in the wake of Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy.
When Fiat took over the U.S. automaker, Mopar head Pietro Gorlier quickly noticed that aftermarket suppliers dominated the estimated $6 billion annual market for Wrangler accessories — the largest accessories market for any SUV, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association — leaving Mopar with table scraps.
Gorlier launched an effort to develop a line of Wrangler accessories in-house. When sold by a dealership, these accessories could be ordered installed from the factory or could be installed by the dealership and financed as part of the vehicle loan. And because the Mopar accessories were factory-authorized, they keep the vehicle’s factory warranty intact.
Gorlier said last year that “98 percent of Wrangler vehicles are customized with at least one product from the Mopar portfolio,” and that Mopar has worked with Wrangler owners to develop accessories for the off-roader.
Gorlier: Initiated in-house effort
In November, Mopar revealed a number of Wrangler accessories. Some were large or complex, such as a first-ever roof rack, enabling owners to carry bicycles, snowboards, kayaks and other large equipment above their vehicles; and an auxiliary switch bank for the instrument panel that lets owners centralize control of electrical accessories such as additional lights or winch controls without compromising the vehicle’s electrical system or instrument panel. Others were simple, such as the tailgate table or an infotainment touch screen protector. Sticker prices for the accessories range from a few dollars to several thousand.
For Jeep dealers, Wrangler accessory sales have been lucrative. Adding accessory options — and making them easier to install and finance — can only help make customization more attractive, dealers say.
“Accessories can be pretty profitable. The service department makes a little bit, the parts department makes a little bit and the sales department makes a little bit,” says Steven Wolf, dealer principal at Helfman Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram in Houston. “As the margins get squeezed on the front, this is a way where we can create some additional revenue.”
Wolf said that in his market, accessories are a part of life that his dealership has adopted.
“My office is right off the service line, so every day, I see the vehicles coming in for service. Almost all of them have accessories on them,” Wolf said. “Big wheels and tires, side steps, lift kits, bumper rails, canoe racks … I’ve had people even take out the six-cylinder engine and put in a Hemi or an SRT” V-8.
“Accessories can be pretty profitable. The service department makes a little bit, the parts department makes a little bit and the sales department makes a little bit,” says Steven Wolf, dealer principal at Helfman Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram in Houston
Similarly, at David Dodge-Ram-Chrysler-Jeep in Glen Mills, Pa., owner David Kelleher installed a large Wrangler accessories display in 2014 as part of a multimillion-dollar dealership renovation. Kelleher said the prominent display has increased his parts revenue and Wrangler transaction prices and profits. With new JL Wrangler product offerings available, Kelleher said he plans to revamp his display wall and add more inventory for his customers.
Kelleher said, “I’m about to really ramp up my accessories.”