Jeep CEO and president Mike Manley told the Australian automotive media the B-segment SUV is set to play a huge part in the brand's future going forward.
“We want to add a B-segment Jeep (SUV), that for me is very, very important because we continue to see downsizing pressure on power terrains or overall vehicle size.”
The sub-compact SUV will see Jeep produce a model below the Compass and Patriot to take on the likes of the Nissan Juke (not available in Australia) and Skoda Yeti. Manly believes the market is likely to shift its focus towards smaller SUVs with buyers cross-shopping between small cars and sub-compact SUVs in the near future. Many other manufacturers are also actively working on vehicles for this segment following the success of cars such as the Juke in Europe.
“I am really excited about the B-SUV, today it may not be a massive segment but I think B-SUV will cross over with small cars.”
Manley conceded Jeep would have to expand its product portfolio further in order to remain relevant in the years to come, but said a change in its positioning approach around the world has significantly increased sales, particularly in Australia.
“For years we’ve kind of hovered around one per cent market share, we were stuck there for a number of years, then we came in with a different approach in terms of autonomy of the markets, being able to do the process of setting market prices, more control over their marketing direction and then you begin to see a very different result. Still a small player in the market but doubled their market share (in the past 12 months).”
Interestingly Jeep is also working on an SUV bigger than the Grand Cherokee, which is likely to remain focused heavily on the American market. The company displayed a special Dragon Edition Wrangler in China today to entice the local market. Jeep continues to remain the leading international brand in the Chrysler portfolio with the removal of Dodge from the remaining international markets now only a matter of time.
Jeep Australia will soon launch the sporty Grand Cherokee SRT8 to continue the sales success of the Grand Cherokee model range. An all-new Cherokee next year and a new Compass and Patriot towards the end of 2014 are also on the agenda.