Jeep Gladiator: FCA’s new accessories king

DETROIT — Before the Jeep Gladiator’s spring launch, Fiat Chrysler’s Mopar unit predicted the midsize pickup would supplant the venerable Jeep Wrangler in accessory sales.

After a few months on the market, it’s done just that.

Mopar said Gladiator buyers spend an average of around $1,000 per vehicle on accessories, topping Wrangler purchasers, who shell out about $800.

The versatile Gladiator is playing in two worlds: pulling in traditional Jeep enthusiasts who equip their vehicles for off-roading as well as attracting buyers from the pickup segment with specific needs.

Kim Mathers, Mopar’s head of performance and accessories, said Gladiator buyers are adding off-road tools such as lift kits and protective rock rails.

FCA made sure Jeep dealers were ready for the accessory onslaught before the Gladiator arrived.

More than 90 percent of Mopar products were available at dealerships at launch. Mopar credits this preparation for the Gladiator’s accessory surge.

Gladiator add-ons center on truck functionality, lifestyle accessories and off-road capability. Mopar has steel-tube doors for those who want an open-air feel. Other options include military-grade LED lights and racks for bikes and surfboards.

Mathers said Mopar plans to offer more accessories and performance parts. With the Gladiator in consumer hands, Mathers said the company is paying attention to how people are modifying their vehicles.

“The planning for the Gladiator launch has been a long time in the works,” Mathers told Automotive News. “Before the vehicles even start to hit dealers, we ship them our key marquee parts.”

She added: “We had always expected Gladiator to do well from an accessories dollars-per-unit perspective because it really can draw upon the Jeep world, which is big from an accessories perspective, but also the truck world, so it’s being able to build upon both. We expected it to be the highest dollar-per-unit, and we’re getting there quickly because of some of the planning exercises that we’ve done to make dealers ready.”

The Gladiator tallied nearly 7,200 U.S. sales in the second quarter. The truck captured an estimated 7.7 percent of the midsize pickup market in its first full month on dealership lots, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

Mark Bosanac, head of Mopar service, parts and customer care for FCA North America, said consumer feedback at events such as the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show and the annual Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, will influence how the accessory lineup develops over time.

“We’re coming up with new ideas, we’re getting input from customers, we’re going to these other events in Moab and SEMA, and we’re taking that information,” Bosanac said. “A lot of us are going out and working and trying to find out, ‘Hey, what else could we possibly do? What are you looking for on a vehicle?’ ”