Traditionally Land Rover has ruled the roost in Europe while Jeep dominates in the US, but the 2018 figures are brutal for Land Rover. Last year it shifted just over 150,000 units across Europe after sales dipped 10%, while Jeep demand shot up 56% to leapfrog Land Rover with sales of 166,500, according to data from industry analysts JATO Dynamics.
Until now Jeep has remained a marginal brand in Europe while its centre of gravity was fixed in the US, but that changed when Fiat took over parent company Chrysler in 2011. The newly created Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) designed models such as the Renegade specifically for Europe and shifted some manufacturing to an underused Fiat factory in Italy. European sales leapt.
But any comparisons with Land Rover need to be qualified with a look at the British car maker’s positioning relative to Jeep. They both lean heavily on off-road heritage – the ‘currency of capability’ as Jeep calls it – but really they’re no longer competitors. Last year the average price of a Jeep sold in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK was £27,176. Land Rover’s average price in the same countries was more than double, at £54,600, JATO’s research shows.
Jeep’s success is largely down to the Renegade and, the new Compass, a Nissan Qashqai rival. Fewer than 20,000 of Jeep’s sales were taken by the big Grand Cherokee, the Wrangler and the barely registering Cherokee. Land Rover may have problems, but it sold 25,097 Range Rover Sports alone in Europe and slightly more of the almost-as-expensive Velar.
Jeep is highly dependent on Italy, just as Land Rover is highly dependent on UK sales. Half of all European Jeeps were sold in Italy last year, while the UK took half of all Land Rover’s European sales. Frankly, we’re just not that into Jeep: only 4% of all Jeeps sold in Europe came to the UK last year.