Jeep Has Big Plans (with video)
Fresh on the heels of what appears to be the successful launch of a new Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler is showing off updates to some other Jeep brand vehicles, the Wrangler and Patriot.
“The marketplace continues to evolve,” said Jeep CEO Mike Manley. “Our competitors continue to evolve as well. What we wanted to do is consolidate on some of the recent gains we’ve seen and we wanted to make sure that we’ve updated what is a very, very competitive package.”
Manley told WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert that as Chrysler updates the Jeep lineup, all of its four wheel drive vehicles will be raised an inch, to give them better capability. The Patriot has some interior updates and a freshened grill. The Wrangler’s interior has more significant updates.
“The off road enthusiast had nothing to complain about on this interior,” said Klaus Busse, who directs the design of Chrysler Group interiors. “But, we realized that by launching the four door wrangler, we opened this vehicle up to another segment, to people who were looking for more amenities, more comfort in this interior.”
While the Wrangler is iconic, the Patriot is also very important. Jeep’s Manly says it’s in a segment that sells three million vehicles a year globally. And, Chrysler is looking to expand the global reach of the Jeep brand.
(AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert’s video on the changes at Jeep)
“The segment the Patriot plays in for example is very important here in the U.S. and also on a worldwide basis,” says Manley, who also heads international sales for Chrysler. “This vehicle is very important to our growth aspirations.”
Jeep is showing the Grand Cherokee at the late September Paris Motor Show. It’s already begun exporting the vehicle in small numbers, mostly to nations where gasoline engines are popular. It will start to show up in larger numbers in Europe, once Chrysler begins manufacturing diesel versions, specifically for European markets.
Chrysler is also looking at expanding the brands with an even smaller Jeep, that could be more popular in emerging markets.
And, for years, Chrysler has been teasing with concept versions of a Jeep pickup. The latest was shown at a recent dealer meeting, and got a great reaction. But, Manley says they’ve not yet approved production of a Jeep pickup.
“We wanted to take that as an opportunity to show them a potential vehicle. We got some phenomenal feedback from our dealers. We’re still getting feedback from our dealers. That’s important in our thought process.”
Should Chrysler decide to put a Jeep pickup truck on sale, Manley says it wouldn’t take a long time to get one in the pipeline. And while there’s no vehicle of that type in Chrysler’s published product plan, Manley says they are able to change that plan quickly, if market conditions require them to.