A niche-busting ‘supermini SUV’ and a luxurious seven-seat Jeep Grand Wagoneer are two crucial new models that sit at either end of an ambitious growth plan for Jeep over the next three years.
Jeep plans to cover all of the core SUV segments by 2014 with products that include the new entry-level model, a sole replacement for the Compass and Patriot, a new Liberty/Cherokee replacement, the revised Wrangler, the recently replaced Grand Cherokee and a flagship Grand Wagoneer, which will be based on the Grand Cherokee.
In Europe alone, Jeep hopes that the result will be annual sales of 125,000 units per year — an eight-fold increase on the 2010 figure of 15,000 units. Early projections indicate that sales this year are on course to reach 22,500 units.
Speaking to Autocar at the recent Frankfurt motor show, Jeep CEO Mike Manley said “work is continuing well” on the new supermini SUV, plans for which were first outlined at the Geneva motor show earlier this year.
In the six months between Geneva and Frankfurt, Jeep has investigated several different Fiat Group platform options for the car. Manley said the project was not yet finalised, but it has been outlined for a 2014 launch in a Jeep product plan revealed to investors at Frankfurt.
Should the model get approval from the Fiat board, as expected, there are plans for a ‘trail rated’ version, Jeep European boss Joe Veltri has confirmed. This model would have class-leading off-road performance to ensure that the smallest Jeep cannot be accused of diluting the brand.
Manley added that Jeep would be targeting traditional supermini buyers with the new model, as well as buyers of cars such as the Nissan Juke.
The sole Compass/Patriot replacement is on course for 2013, Manley confirmed, and Jeep plans to sell 150,000 units of this model each year. The project is a co-development with Alfa Romeo, but Manley insists Jeep’s involvement in the vehicle is “almost as total as you can get”.
Veltri added that off-road performance of the model, codenamed C-SUV, would not be compromised, because Jeep was developing the all-wheel drive system, ride height requirements and approach, departure and breakover angles for the platform.
At the top of the new-look range will sit a new Grand Wagoneer, a car Manley says “he wants to have in Jeep”. The original Grand Wagoneer was the inspiration for the original Range Rover, but Jeep has missed out on the boom years of the luxury SUV segment by not building anything truly premium.