Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV plans to push back the introduction of the next generation Jeep Grand Cherokee until the 2018 -2019, Mike Manley, president of the Jeep brand, confirmed during a meeting with reporters at the company’s Chelsea Proving Ground.
Manley said the talk of FCA merging with another automaker played no part in the decision to delay the introduction of the next generation Grand Cherokee, which has been at the heart of the Jeep line when it was first introduced by Chrysler back in the 1990s.
Reports from Italy also have indicated that FCA has delayed the introduction of some models to free up cash for new investment in Alfa Romeo, which is expected to total $5 billion by the end of the decade.
In addition, Jeep has been in the midst of something of product offensive of late with the introduction in 2014 of the Jeep Cherokee and earlier this year of Jeep Renegade. Both vehicles are doing very well in the market place and have helped boost Jeep sales by more than 20% so far this year, Manley said.
The Grand Cherokee will also undergo a major mid-cycle refresh in 2016, prompting FCA to delay the introduction of the all-new vehicle, Manley said. “Any product plan needs to stay very fluid,” added Manley, noting that the refresh planned next year during Jeep’s 75th anniversary is very extensive.
In addition, Jeep will also bring back the Grand Wagoneer with three rows of seats to sit on the top of the Jeep line in 2018, he said.
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While one of the nameplates will disappear, Jeep hasn’t decided yet which one, an all-new version of the front wheel drive Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot will appear in 2016. “There will be only one vehicle,” Manley said.
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The next-generation Jeep Wrangler, which will make extensive use of aluminum, will also make its debut during the 2018 calendar year.
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Manley, however, stressed FCA US still hasn’t made a final decision on where to build the next version. “That will be done at the chairman level,” he said. “It’s a very important and sensitive decision. The Wrangler represents the very essence of the Jeep brand.”