Jeep Australia is on a comeback mission to restore credibility and move the iconic brand towards better times.
Speaking to the automotive media yesterday about the future of Chrysler’s brands in Australia, the company’s managing director Clyde Campbell said “the only way is up”, remarking that he is on a mission to fix a company that was broken not so long ago.
With big investments secured from the United States, Chrysler’s future plans in Australia are set for a shakeup, with more prominence and a large-scale attack to bring the brands to the masses. “In an environment when other car companies are shrinking (marketing budgets and expansion) it’s a sign of Chrysler’s future” Mr Campbell added.
Although times may have been tough at Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep in recent times, 2011 was infact the American company’s best year in Australia, with over 12,000 units sold. That represented an overall group growth of 27.5 percent, which is broken down to 44.5 percent growth for Jeep, 41 percent growth for Dodge but a 60 percent decline for Chrysler itself (given the lack of a 300C).
The largest volume gain has come from Jeep’s new Grand Cherokee, which has been a huge hit since it landed in Australia late last year (with 430 sales just in January). The range-topping Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 will go on sale in April and is expected to further boost sales. Apart from the Grand Cherokee SRT8 we are likely to see the introduction of new limited edition Jeep Wrangler variants to maintain the model’s momentum.
Mr Campbell said given the importance of Australia to Jeep’s right-hand drive operations, our market’s requirements are dictating right-hand drive development for future models. As it stands, there are currently 74 Chrysler brand dealers in Australia with plans for further expansion.
Questioned about Jeep’s long perceived poor quality, Mr Campbell was quick to point out that the brand’s quality improvement in the last two to three years is nothing short of outstanding, whilst admitting that “we’ve all produced dogs”.
Given the Fiat ownership of the Chrysler group, Mr Campbell said talks were on going but was hesitant to comment further on the future of Fiat and Alfa Romeo distribution in Australia (currently undertaken by Ateco).