Jeep has reaffirmed its commitment to right-hand drive markets around the world – including Australia – and has ambitious plans to become a top-10 brand.
This comes as Jeep is embarks on a major line-up overhaul – including new models and electrified powertrains – many of which are coming to Australia.
Compared to a string of successful years between 2010 and 2015, Jeep has since been navigating the treacherous waters of falling sales and plummeting consumer sentiment in Australia.
Jeep sold a total of only 5748 vehicles in 2020 – however, that is an improvement over 2019's 5519 sales.
In order to achieve that top-10 position, Jeep will have to replicate – or do better than – its previous record of 30,408 sales in one calendar year.
This record was set in 2014, and was led by the Grand Cherokee’s 16,582 sales – more than half of the volume for the American manufacturer.
Above: the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which outsold the LandCruiser Prado in that year.
For reference, the tenth best-selling brand in 2020 was Mercedes-Benz, with 29,455 sales.
Christian Meunier, global head of Jeep (below), sees Australia as a very important market for the American off-road brand – despite low sales figures Down Under.
“I spent quite a lot of time in Australia because of the importance of this market and the fact that Jeep and Australia have so much affinity, lifestyle-wise.”
“It broke my heart when I joined Jeep, to see the performance of Jeep in Australia and the fact that we had lost some momentum.”
As sales continued to head southward, people have asked questions about whether Jeep was committed to staying in Australia and other right-hand drive markets around the world.
And after General Motors exited right-hand drive markets globally 2019, speculation about Jeep’s future grew. However, Mr Meunier is adamant that the Jeep brand is going nowhere:
“You can believe me when I say that we're very committed to the right-hand drive markets, because first I think we have big markets where we do well, like Japan and Australia, where we're going to recover.”
And while European automotive markets shift further towards electrification, Jeep plans on being in the hot seat with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles:
“I mean, even if the UK is coming out of the European Union, it's still going to be relying on a lot of electrification of everything.”
“But Jeep is going 100% full speed on electrification, and we'll talk about this as well, including in Australia.”
“And we're not going to be followers in that field, we're going to be leaders. We're going to take the lead in a market like Australia with electrification.
“You'll have some pretty exciting product coming your way (to Australia).
When quizzed over the development and engineering of right-hand drive vehicles, Mr Meunier told CarAdvice that the provision for right-hand-drive is included right from the start of development.
“We put them in at the get-go, because that's the way to do it. That's the way to get optimisation, the development cost down … because we are very committed in Australia, because we know we're going to get stronger volume in Australia.
“So, all the future model, and I would say the core ones, are going to be developed with Right Hand Drive in mind. Always.”
“We have all the research that show that Australians love Jeep. They love the brand, they like the product.”
“But there were some issues that we have fixed, and we're going to keep being really focused on fixing the product and making it very, very appropriate for your market."