FCA brand thinks new flagship 4x4 can raise profile in Europe and reverse falling sales

The arrival of the all-new Jeep Wrangler in the UK in November will act as a halo for the brand and underpin a sales push built on its go-anywhere reputation, according to new managing director Arnaud Leclerc.

While Jeep sales have grown substantially in recent years – from 231,701 in 2009 to 1,388,208 last year – the firm has been slammed for posting a slight drop in sales in 2017, despite the market for SUVs booming around the world.

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The most stinging criticism of that sales performance came from FCA boss Sergio Marchionne, who at the turn of this year described the efforts of Jeep’s European team as “lousy”. Leclerc was appointed to head Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ UK arm from the PSA Group in January.

“It is true that 2016 and 2017 were hard for us, but 2018 has potential,” said Leclerc. “We have the right products for the market now and the prospect of more to come.

“The Wrangler is an icon and underpins Jeep’s authenticity as one of very few brands that gives every car it sells genuine off-road ability. Other SUV brands are going in other directions, but let’s say that Jeep will never make a coupé. Our heart is in 4x4.”

The Wrangler, a rival for the Land Rover Defender, will be sold in two and four-door variants. Emphasising its modern makeover, engine options will include a 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor that uses a twin-scroll turbocharger and mild-hybrid technology. Other units include a 3.6 petrol and 3.0 diesel.

Like its predecessors, the new Wrangler is based on a body-on-frame chassis design. It features five-link suspension, while the roll centre height has been raised and spring rates retuned to boost the vehicle’s off-road abilities and improve ride quality.

Our Verdict

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 2018 road test review hero front

The Wrangler is back, and it's bigger, better and more Wrangly than ever. If you think it’s for you, you’ll love it. If you think it’s not, it’s not.

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Leclerc also highlighted the early success of the Jeep Compass, which was launched earlier this year, competing against the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and Seat Ateca in the booming family SUV class.

“The potential of that size and price of car is enormous,” he said. “It is true that the market is very crowded now, and there is a lot of competition, but that is why having a halo product like the Wrangler is so important. It embodies all the qualities of our brand and demonstrates the spirit of what our cars can give to customers.

“But the potential for Jeep is there: we have a brand that is famous and we have high-quality new products. The missing ingredient is awareness and that is something that can be fixed when it is underpinned by the other two.”

Leclerc on…

Abarth - “The UK is the biggest market for Abarth in the world, even beating Italy, but there is so much more potential. We need to emphasise the difference from the standard cars (nobody can compare a Fiat 500 with an Abarth 595) and to grow awareness of what the brand is about. Customers know how special our cars are, but we need to let others know too.”

Alfa Romeo - “The Giulia and Stelvio are world-class cars in the opinion of the press, not just us. Sales are going well, but there is room for more. We are at a point where Alfa has the products to match its brand again. What I need now is awareness of those facts. Not everyone knows how far we’ve come or even perhaps that we make an SUV. That will change.”

Fiat - “No other car has the longevity of appeal of the 500. It is as fresh as the day it was launched, and expresses our Italian values of fashion and freshness perfectly. Put it in a street and people will stop to look at it. One car does not make a brand, but there’s no brand that wouldn’t want a car like the 500, and we have a family of vehicles alongside it – from the X, L, L MPW and C to the 124, Tipo, Punto and Panda.”

Read more 

Jeep Wrangler review 

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Fiat 500 review

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Comments
10

31 May 2018

As far as Jeep are concerned, there are 2 things that he needs to get right. Allow the consumer the options they want, and be realistic about prices. I actually think the vehicles are good, but the way they are treated in the UK isnt.

If things are optional in the States, we should have the option of them here. And dont price cars so high you have to sell cars with 20% off list, just be realistic about prices to start with.

31 May 2018

As I want one, any look at the UK prices would be welcome.

I saw a software package for sale online a week ago $120.99.  So I went to buy it on the British site... £120.99.  It should have been £91.00.  So I didn't buy it, stuff 'em.

31 May 2018

'Rival for the LR Defender' is a bit disingenuous as the Defender hasnt been in production for two years!..

31 May 2018

C'mon, Autocar, you're behind the news.  The US has announced that due to the EU failing to reduce its tariffs on US-exported cars (among other things) it will implement tariffs on steel and aluminium from the EU (and Canada and Mexico).  France has already said it will be a trade war.  You get the feeling that the US has probably already played it out in a computer model to see that they will win it.  The last thing the EU needs is trade problems!  You also get the feeling that the EU just wants trouble - what with Brexit and Italy, and now taking on the US, and that shows why the EU will collapse.

1 June 2018
Bazzer wrote:

Bla bla bla trade war bla bla the EU just wants trouble bla Brexit and Italy bla bla bla the EU will collapse.

How 'bout you keep your political views out of this CAR related website?

 

 

1 June 2018

Hey, genius:

It's related to the article, since tariffs add a little to the price of Jeeps (10%).  That may be too much for you to cope with.  If Autocar feels it strays off too much, they'll pull it.  It's not down to you to decide what is acceptable, and what isn't.  Are we clear?

289

31 May 2018

...Yes Leclerc isnt impressing with his market knowledge....he obviously doesnt realise that the Bravo and Punto are no longer going to be a part of the Fiat range either!!!!!

Fiat will have various versions of the 500 and the Polish built Panda. Oh, and a handful of 124's.

IMO, thats not a sustainable range.

31 May 2018
289 wrote:

...Yes Leclerc isnt impressing with his market knowledge....he obviously doesnt realise that the Bravo and Punto are no longer going to be a part of the Fiat range either!!!!!

Fiat will have various versions of the 500 and the Polish built Panda. Oh, and a handful of 124's.

IMO, thats not a sustainable range.

The 'Defender rival' comment appears to be Autocar's own (unsurprisingly), although, yes, Mr Leclerc does cite a FIAT range including the Punto. They really seem to have painted themselves into a corner relying totally on the 500, and stretching its cute face to gargoyle proportions on vehicles it really doesnt suit.

1 June 2018

That and the MINI look like they're on steroids.

2 June 2018

The Jeep range seems to exist just to show that LandRover products are high quality and well  priced products from efficient friendly dealers.

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