Speaking with CarAdvice at the launch of the all-new Renegade in San Jose, California, Adrian van Campenhout– the man responsible for international product planning for Jeep – responded to rumours and reports of a potential new three-door model - to rival the other hardcore off-road baby SUV, the Suzuki Jimny - that would be even smaller than the boxy baby SUV, which measures 4.23 metres long, 1.88m wide and 1.68m tall.
“There has been some talk out there from some of our executives [about a new entry-level model],” he said, before making the point that the brand could only build a vehicle smaller than Renegade if there is demand, and a profitable way to do it.
“If we study a smaller vehicle for markets that would demand it – there’s a lot of emerging markets with a lot of volume out there – that a Renegade is a flippin’ huge car. It’s ungodly expensive to these emerging markets, right?
“So naturally if you take a look at the white space, if you take a look at a brand that is capturing a lot of market share everywhere around the world – we sell in 100-plus countries – [it could work].”
When asked whether there is a single market that the brand sees as spurring on the demand for such a model, van Campenhout clearly indicated that this would be a model with emerging economies in mind.
“I think that India would be a very reasonable place to think about, right?” he said, opening the door to the car being sold in Australia due to that country’s right-hand-drive requirement.
“It would work in your neck of the woods, too, I would imagine,” he said, indicating that any such model would meet the global safety and technology standards expected of Jeep.
“But if the attribute set of whatever this vehicle were to be, would be consistent with the Jeep line-up, there would be capability associated with that vehicle,” he said.
It is clear that Jeep is broadening its horizons due to its inclusion in the global-focused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group, which has traditionally centred on Fiat’s platforms and technologies out of Italy. But van Campenhout said any new smaller model would be built using the broader company’s assets.
“That is always the opportunity of the FCA arrangement, right. It’s not always about what is in Turin, but the arrangement is about what is available globally,” he said. “We have some really good folks down in Brazil that do some fantastic low-cost platforms, so globally the studies would necessitate considering all platforms and all sources.
“And again, the fact is that if it says J-E-E-P on it, it’s gotta be a Jeep, right? I can’t compromise on the brand values for something at one end of the spectrum,” he said.
There’s every chance the car will lose its rear doors, being sold in a shorter three-door body and thus offering the potential for greater off-road capability at a lower cost and lower complexity level than the Renegade.
“It’s an interesting proposal,” he said, before going on to suggest that there could be big demand for a smaller, more affordable SUV that mimics the hero Wrangler Rubicon two-door, which van Campenhout described as the pinnacle and halo of the line-up.
“With the ebb and the flow of two-doors [in the conventional passenger car market], the Wrangler seems to just continue to sell and sell and sell. It just works [for a four-wheel-drive].”
There’s no word yet on when to expect the car to be revealed, though going on the comments from van Campenhout, it appears clear that the brand is well advanced in the planning process.
As for a name, there was no comment made – but the brand has toyed with the names Jeepster (which was originally set to be used on the Renegade) and Junior in the past.