Jeep will resist launching a high-riding vehicle with car-like styling, such as a coupe-look body, because such a vehicle doesn’t fit its brand values.
“No. For me to move into that more sleek design is not something that appeals to me,” says Jeep CEO Michael Manley.
“I don’t want my vehicles to be cross-overs, I want my vehicles to be competitive against cross-overs,” he added.
Manley acknowledges that since he took over Jeep in 2009, the market for car-like cross-over vehicles has grown considerably, but he believes Jeep must stay true to its design heritage.
“Maybe there is a big market for sleek design vehicles, but then you’re kind of bordering onto a CUV or softer UV and one of the things that we’ve tried to do since 2009 is not do that,” he says.
Manley says Jeep has two design themes – it’s more off-road and traditional look defined by the Wrangler and Renegade. While the “sleeker” look is defined by the Grand Cherokee and Compass.
“We’ll just have to continue to keep people interested in our design cues, because they’re important to the brand,” he says.
In China and Europe, crossovers are gaining in popularity, catching-up with traditional saloon and hatchbacks for a growing share of the new car market.
And many buyers are taking their first step towards a high-riding vehicle in a cross-over that drives more like a car than a 4x4. To choose a Jeep, there is still some compromise in driving manners and refinement.
“What we’ve done is try to have a car-like ride and drive. That’s important to us, the way that our customers feel when they drive our vehicles,” said Manley.
Manley also said that Jeep is likely to make an announcement about the future of diesel engines at FCA’s June 1 strategy announcement. “Investor day would be the most appropriate time to talk in more detail about diesel,” he said.