￼Jeep’s boss says the new Wrangler is "future-proof"
Jeep will follow the launch of the new Wrangler with an all-new Cherokee, its first pick-up and the return of the Grand Wagoneer by 2020, by which point the firm will also offer a plug-in hybrid version of every model in its range.
The US brand is the world’s largest SUV maker and is using the launch of its most iconic model, the Wrangler – replaced for the first time since 2006 – as a springboard for further growth towards annual sales of two million, up from 1.4m in 2016.
Speaking to Autocar during the Wrangler’s launch at last year's Los Angeles motor show, Jeep boss Mike Manley confirmed the new models due in the next three years, with the period beyond 2020 likely to include the firm’s first electric car.
First, Jeep is about to launch the Compass in the UK. Manley calls it the latest “compounding building block” around boosting the brand in the UK and mainland Europe, the star example being the firm’s most successful model, the Renegade. Manley said the new Compass, a Nissan Qashqai - sized model, is “crucial” for the brand as it competes in Europe’s largest segment.
It will be followed this time next year by an all-new Cherokee, which sits above the Compass in Jeep’s range. Also in 2018, Jeep will launch a mild-hybrid 48V version of every model in its line-up. Each will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine and mild-hybrid system that allows for improved torque delivery for off-road driving, better fuel economy and quieter on-road manners, according to Manley.
By 2020, Jeep will have launched a plug-in hybrid version of every model in its range, including the Wrangler, the standard version of which will reach the UK next year.
Manley wouldn’t be drawn on the arrival of pure-electric models but said they were inevitable given how economy regulations around the world are tightening.
Jeep has recently launched a 679bhp Trackhawk version of its Grand Cherokee, which, Manley said, is important to give a “halo effect” to the range. The marque also plans to offer customers more luxurious versions of its cars, including more models in premium Summit trim and a return of the range-topping Grand Wagoneer seven-seater in 2020, a year after the launch of its first pick-up.
Q&A Mike Manley, CEO, Jeep:
How important is the new Wrangler to Jeep?
“The Wrangler can trace its lineage back to 1941. It was not only the start of the brand, but the mainstay of the brand. It’s recognised around the world as an American icon. It’s the very embodiment of the brand. It’s the authenticity, the freedom and adrenaline, and connection to the outside. It’s cherished, so you can see how important it is to get the next-generation car right.”
What’s changed with it?
“It’s completely new. We started from scratch. It’s 9% more aerodynamic. It’s been future-proofed – not just for new, advanced powertrains, but for aero, weight. We started with the frame and redid it completely. We redid the capability [off-road attributes]. We improved the on-road ride and handling and redesigned the engines for significant fuel economy improvements. The tech in today’s car was from 2006, so we had to redo that without being intrusive on what Wrangler stands for. The engineers did a good job. We can take Wrangler well into the 2020s.”
How do you rate your performance in Europe?
“With the Renegade growing in Europe, we are where we want to be. We have yet to complete the roll-out in Europe of Compass, which is in Europe’s biggest segment. In 2018, I’m looking for significant growth on 2017.”