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As It Tries to Gain Traction in Europe, Jeep Brand Boss Promises ‘the Year of Jeep’

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2017 Jeep® Renegade Limited

Two years in the past, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne might barely include his enthusiasm for the Jeep model and its barely-tapped international attraction. A gross sales juggernaut in America, the rugged, go-anyplace model had a secure of fashions ripe for the worldwide choosing. All it wanted was extra native manufacturing, extra new fashions, and voila — world-straddling dominance.

Two years later, and the model’s progress predictions are beginning to look lower than believable. Marchionne hoped for worldwide Jeep gross sales of 2 million automobiles in 2018, however final yr’s gross sales might nicely have been a glass of chilly water in the face. Whereas the model’s technique might nonetheless repay, it’s going to take longer than anticipated to attain Marchionne’s goal.

Overlook the minor markets — Europe wants to study to love Jeep, America wants to decide up the tempo, and China can’t again off now.

Jeep’s international gross sales fell 1 % in 2017, dropping to 1.388 million automobiles. Within the U.S., gross sales of the seven-slot model fell eleven % (after 2016’s document tally). In Europe, regardless of a product push spearheaded by the second-era Compass, gross sales solely nudged upwards 2 %.

The gross sales results have been “disappointing,” stated Jeep’s European model chief, Jeff Hines, in an interview with Autocar. Earlier this yr, Marchionne referred to as the model’s efficiency “awful.”

Hines locations the blame for the lackluster European tally on a delayed Compass launch. One other mannequin, on sale since 2014, declined in spite of its Euro-friendliness. The Renegade noticed its gross sales fall four.eight % in 28 European nations (and three % in the USA).

This can all quickly change, Hines stated, calling 2018 “the yr of Jeep” in Europe. The Compass is now in place, and new mannequin introductions loom. Amongst them, the identical subsequent-era Wrangler that set the web ablaze with rumor in North America over the previous two years. Additionally scheduled to seem is a restyled Cherokee, a facelifted Renegade, and — simply perhaps — a child Jeep constructed off the Fiat 500’s petite skeleton.

FCA’s 5-yr plan comes out June 1st, so we’ll probably see affirmation then (dream on in case you think you’ll get one right here). We additionally may get a take a look at the up to date Renegade, anticipated later this yr.

Hines stated getting the UK in Jeep is vital, as locals on these misty isles historically keep shut to the house-grown Land Rover model. FCA wants to soften that resistance by speaking the model’s attributes “in a simple to perceive approach,” he stated. “That’s the most important problem for us.”

In China, consumers can look ahead to a brand new mannequin of their very personal in the shape of the three-row Grand Commander. It couldn’t arrive at a greater time. Regardless of boffo quantity progress final yr, Jeep model gross sales dropped considerably in China in 2018. FCA wants the Orient on board to attain its international objective.

Nonetheless, it’s not all darkish clouds for the model. Tentative excellent news is beginning to crop up. Jeep model gross sales rose 12 % in the U.S. in February, yr over yr, and seven % over the primary two months of 2018. Canadian Jeep gross sales rose 36 % over those self same two months. In Europe, Jeep gross sales rose sixty eight.eight % in January, yr over yr — its best gross sales month to date.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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