Suddenly every automaker “needs” a full-sized, high-end sport-utility vehicle in their line-up with Fiat Chrysler being the latest maker coming to the party as it is rumored to be showing dealers a new Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
The new three-row SUV, which isn’t expected to arrive until 2018 as a 2019 model, will be shown at the dealers’ biennial show in Las Vegas in August, according to Automotive News. It would be aimed directly at the luxury end of the segment.
The idea of a new Wagoneer suddenly showing up is a bit ironic given recent news out of FCA that several Jeep product development efforts are being delayed to allow Sergio Marchionne time to find a strategic partner for the company.
Jeep hasn’t produced at Grand Wagoneer since 1993 and even then it was a just a luxed up version of the Grand Cherokee with wood paneling on the sides. The original came to life in 1962 and was produced without many exterior changes until 1991 when it bagged the beast for good when it sold less than 2,000 units. It tried to introduce some “flavor” of the Grand Wagoneer with its 2006 Jeep Commander and its exterior styling; however, that SUV had a short run due to poor sales.
FCA isn’t alone as Hyundai is considering a large SUV that would be built off the same platform producing the Genesis right now. Other makers have been putting some development cash into updating their full-size SUVs, including Ford, which is expected to introduce an all-new Lincoln Navigator for 2016.
(Hyundai mulls addition of full-size sport utility. For more, Click Here.)
The Navigator was originally slated for the scrap heap when former Ford Chief Alan Mulally was forming his plans to resurrect Ford. However, that changed when sales of Cadillac’s revamped Escalade took off and they hurriedly put out a new Navigator.
(Click Here for details about Mitsubishi’s plans to stay in the U.S.)
Sales of full-sized SUVs have been going strong for much of the last 12 months. The growth has been tied to the significant drop in fuel prices that began at the end of last summer. While early on the falling prices were considered a bit of an anomaly, there are now plenty of voices saying that prices are going to remain below $3 a gallon at least through the end of the year.
(To see more about Ferrari’s oft-delayed spin off, Click Here.)
When you combine low gas prices – or at least tolerable prices – with the profitability that SUVs bring to automakers, those without the big behemoths begin scrambling to fill the void in their product portfolio. Sales of crossovers are up by 12.1%, midsize SUVs have risen 16.8% and luxury models leading are enjoying the biggest boost with an increase of 25.7%, according to Autodata.com.