Jeep CEO Mike Manley has confirmed plans to launch a sub-four-metre SUV in India. Positioned below the Renegade, the SUV will become a new entry-point to the Jeep range and allow the brand to tap into India's burgeoning demand for compact SUVs.
The carmaker today confirmed plans for the sub-four-metre SUV at parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCA) five-year plan announcement, whose proceedings were helmed by Group CEO Sergio Marchionne.
We broke the news about Jeep working on a sub-Renegade SUV (Codename: Jeep 526) back in November 2016.
Set to take on the likes of Ford Ecosport and Vitara Brezza, the smaller Jeep is expected to share its platform with the next generation Fiat Panda and 500 as a part of the platform strategy at FCA. The obvious route to market is for Jeep to develop its own body and interior on the running gear of the next-generation Panda 4x4.
This new SUV is expected to have traditional Jeep DNA, which means that it will have a proper SUV-like design and off-road capability.
The announcement of the smallest Jeep for India reflects the soaring popularity of SUVs in the country, especially those under sub-four-metres. In line with the global trend, the demand for UVs is outstripping that for cars in India, and the last fiscal saw 9,21,780 SUVs going home to new buyers in India, up 20.97 percent. Notably, Jeep has benefited from this trend, selling 21,266 units of the Compass till April 2018 since launching the model in July 2017. Jeep expects the country's SUV market to touch 16,00,000 units by 2022.
Apart from the compact Jeep, the carmaker has also confirmed plans to introduce a "three-row mid-size UV" in India. This model will be positioned above the Compass in the carmaker's India range.
The company also announced plans to introduce four electric models and 10 plug-in hybrids by 2022 in international markets. A Wrangler pick-up and a Grand Wagoneer will also arrive by 2022.
India as an export hub
As a part of the five-year strategy, Jeep CEO Mike Manley outlined plans to strengthen Fiat Chrysler India's position as an export hub. The company plans to increase production capacity by 1.5x compared to that in end-2017. This would mean increasing the capacity at FCA's plant in Ranjangaon, Maharashtra to 2,40,000 units, from 1,60,000 units at present.
The carmaker also announced plans to double its dealership count and expand service centers in the country.
With inputs from Julian Rendell, Autocar UK.