The Jeep brand is rocketing towards another sales record this year and it also looking for new worlds to conquer.
Mike Manley, president of chief executive officer in charge of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.’s Jeep brand, said during a session with reporters at the FCA’s Chelsea Proving Ground that he believes there is ample room in the market for a B-Class-size Jeep smaller than the Renegade, which is now the smallest vehicle in the Jeep model line.
“I have a strong feeling a small Jeep below Renegade would do well outside of (North America),” said Manley, who has been responsible for pushing the Jeep brand into new market in Europe, Asia and now South America.
“I would never say it would never be sold here,” he added, but the first target would be markets where small, subcompact vehicles have a strong presence.
But he also noted much of the growth in utility vehicles sales in recent months have been in the smaller segments. Sales of midsized and full-sized sport utility vehicles have been flat for the most part, he noted.
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At the other end of the Jeep portfolio, Manley said he believes Jeep could sell multiple versions of the Jeep Wagoneer, which he described as the “ultimate” Jeep vehicle.
However, both the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer would be premium vehicles would have different trim, powertrains and technology, added Manley, who noted later on during his conversation that FCA was taking a serious look at bringing electric vehicles into the Jeep line.
Manley, however, offered no explicitly timetable either for the small Jeep or the Grand Wagoneer, nothing that Jeep is on the verge of launching other new vehicles – notably the replacement for the car-like Jeep Compass and Patriot and the Jeep Wrangler, which has been redesigned to help it match up with federal fuel economy regulations.
Compass and Patriot will be unveiled for the first time in Brazil this fall. It will also appear at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, he said.
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The Compass/Patriot replacement has been in the pipeline for several years but the current model has been a durable seller despite being a decade old. The replacement is the next phase of Jeep’s global growth plan to top 1.9 million in annual sales by 2018.
“There has been no delay in terms of our production cadence,” Manley added. “Because it is a global vehicle … as I got into the year, I felt it was more appropriate for us to celebrate that in Brazil.”
FCA is also moving closer to unveiling the replacement for ever popular Wrangler by early 2018.
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However, the launch of the new Wrangler is dependent on shifting production of some Jeep products to other plants and re-tooling the Jeep operations in Toledo, Ohio. Manley said he expects FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne to outline the timetable for the changes soon.