Currently reading: Jeep aims high in Europe
New Compass soft-roader is set to head manufacturer’s ambitious revival plan

A new soft-roader will spearhead an ambitious plan to lift Jeep sales in Europe to 125,000 a year by 2014.

The all-new Jeep Compass will go on sale that year and will be based on Fiat’s latest compact premium platform, which will also underpin the new Alfa Giulia, Fiat’s BMW 3-series challenger.

The new Compass will have a long-wheelbase and wide-track version of the front-drive Alfa Giulietta platform that will position it in the heart of the European premium SUV market against the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Freelander. The same platform will also underpin a new Alfa soft-roader.

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The new Compass will replace two models — today’s Compass, which is destined for a short shelf life of two years, and the Patriot.

Jeep’s vital new soft-roader will be revealed in 2013, with sales getting under way the following year. Significantly, it will feature a two-litre diesel engine, an essential addition if Jeep is to get close to the target of 125,000 European sales per year set out by the architect of the Fiat-Chrysler merger, Sergio Marchionne.

Fiat is confident that it can hit this ambitious figure, which is an eight-fold increase on Jeep’s 15,000 sales in the region last year. It’s also well in excess of even Land Rover, which sold 75,000 units in western Europe in 2010. “Jeep is a global brand with a new product range and an expanding dealer network,” said one Jeep source. “This is what we say we’re going to sell.”

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Other models in the ambitious expansion plan include a facelifted Wrangler, the new Cherokee and Grand Cherokee, and the Grand Wagoneer. There will also be an increased network of 800 outlets (paired with Lancia dealers on the continent).

The new Cherokee is due in late 2013 or 2014. It’s likely to be equipped with a competitive diesel engine, one of the biggest omissions on the old model. The Grand Wagoneer, meanwhile, is a seven-seat version of the Grand Cherokee. It’s due in 2014/2015.

Julian Rendell

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