On a day that's supposed to belong to Ford Motor Company for its much-anticipated 2021 Ford Bronco reveal, nemesis Jeep has released a sneak peek of a sexy new Wrangler.
"Jeep enthusiasts have been clamoring for a V8-powered production Wrangler in recent years and the new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is an indication they may soon get their wish," Fiat Chrysler said in a statement Monday.
For serious off-roading Jeep Wrangler fans, this could be a Holy Grail.
The vehicle is powered by a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engine that delivers 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, plus goes 0 to 60 mph in fewer than 5 seconds, the release bragged.
"Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts have been asking us for a Wrangler V8 and our new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept proves that we have the ability to make that happen," said Jim Morrison, head of Jeep Brand-FCA North America, in a prepared statement.
The key words for Ford fans seem to be "have the ability to make that happen" rather than "have made that happen." Fan websites reporting on Ford's new Bronco have said it will not offer a V8.
The team at Ford dismissed the significance of the release.
"It's just a concept — again. *whisper voice* (someone is very very nervous)," tweeted Mike Levine, Ford North America product communications manager.
He then posted an image of Lucy from the Charles Schultz cartoon lifting a football away from Charlie Brown as he falls crashing to the ground.
Ford has made no secret that it plans to go after the Jeep market, especially Wrangler, with its all-new Bronco family of products.
Jeep unleashed its news fewer than 12 hours before the Ford Bronco reveal that will be aired on ABC, ESPN and the National Geographic channel as well as YouTube.
"Ford is going for Jeep‘s throat with the new Broncos, so Jeep had to fight back," said John McElroy, veteran industry observer and "Autoline After Hours" host.
"It‘s trying to steal some of Ford’s thunder by showing a concept version of the Jeep Wrangler fitted with a monster V8 Hemi engine. And they’re doing it on the day the Bronco debuts," he said. "They also have a plug-in hybrid version of the Wrangler coming, but Jeep knew that stuffing a Hemi under the hood would grab bigger headlines."
Everyone everywhere agrees that Jeep loyalty is the stuff of automotive fantasies.
"From the recently introduced 29-mpg Wrangler EcoDiesel to our award-winning Jeep Gladiator, and the upcoming Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, Jeep is clearly listening to its customers," Morrison said in the Fiat Chrysler release. "We are anxious to gauge their reaction to this new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, a vehicle that delivers an incredible and unmatched level of fun-to-drive performance and capability, on- and off-road."
To be clear, a production vehicle is a vehicle manufactured and produced for sale. Concept vehicles can be design or brand "exercises" created specifically to gauge consumer interest. A concept car shows what a production car could be.
PRESS RELEASE: https://t.co/OQ8X3j786F— FCA-North America (@FiatChrysler_NA) July 13, 2020
Get a look at the V-8 powered @Jeep® #Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept. 450 horsepower. 450 lb.-ft. of torque. 0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds. pic.twitter.com/yJDIvggrvO
The last time Jeep offered a V8 engine was in the 1981 Jeep CJ, with its 5.0-liter V8 that delivered 125 horsepower and 220 pound of torque, Jeep noted.
A spokesman declined to comment to the Free Press on the timing of the news.
Meanwhile, Ford's Levine continued poking fun at Jeep on Twitter.
The Streisand effect is a social phenomenon that occurs when attempting to hide information has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information. It’s named after Barbra Streisand, whose attempt to suppress photos of her home only drew further attention to it. pic.twitter.com/kusTj8MnNV— Mike Levine (@mrlevine) July 13, 2020
"Ford is very bold in going after Jeep," said market analyst Jon Gabrielsen. "But Ford needs to understand that when you go after the king, you need to crush him or the retaliation will be brutal."
While Jeep aficionados are buzzing about what's coming, Ford hopes people will tune in Monday night for the big show.
Free Press staff writer Mark Phelan contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Jeep teases new V8 Wrangler Rubicon on day of 2021 Ford Bronco reveal