Jeep has launched its much-awaited Compass SUV today in the Indian market. Pricing for the Compass starts at an aggressive Rs 14.95 lakh (ex-showroom, New Delhi), for the base Sport petrol trim and comes in a total of six variant options – three each in diesel and petrol. The top-end diesel Limited 4x4 variant is pegged at Rs 20.65 (ex-showroom, New Delhi).
The compact SUV, which sits at the starting point of Jeep’s line-up of vehicles in the Indian market, aims to enhance the brand’s accessibility in the market, by being ‘Made-in-India’ and benefiting in terms of pricing, as compared to its other CBU siblings.
The Ranjangoan facility of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is going to act as the mother plant for the Compass SUV, for all the right-hand-drive markets out of a total hundred, slated for the product’s launch. The SUV will only be manufactured at three other locations globally, including Brazil, Mexico and China.
In fact, the first export-ready batch of Jeep Compass rolls out today, headed for the UK, Australia and Japan. FCA India is targeting a total of 8 right-hand-drive export markets. In the next few years, another 5-6 markets, mainly ASEAN, are to be to be added.
Paul Alcala, COO, FCA Asia Pacific Region (excluding China), said that this is the first Jeep product is being made at four manufacturing plants across the world. FCA aims to increase the existing 65 percent local content in the Jeep Compass “significantly” in the next 18 months. Localisation of the Compass in China has reached 85-90 percent in 18 months.
Commenting on the Jeep Compass , Kevin Flynn, MD, FCA India, said: “The Jeep Compass is cleverly packaged to target customers who would have been contemplating buying an SUV or a crossover positioned across a wide range of price points. We developed a pricing strategy that could help us keep the product premium, yet attainable, with absolutely no compromise on quality of materials, comfort, safety and drivability, and make worthy impact in the highly aspirational and demanding SUV marketplace.”
Powertrain and Exterior
The Compass comes in a five-seat configuration and gets two engine options, including a 1.4-litre Multiair series four-cylinder turbocharged petrol, and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder Multijet-II series diesel unit from Fiat. While the petrol engine gets either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic gearbox, the diesel, sticks to having a 6-speed manual option initially, with Jeep planning to also introduce a 9-speed automatic gearbox at a later stage.
The diesel, which supposedly is going to bring in the major numbers of the two, generates a total of 171bhp of power and 350Nm of peak torque between 1,750-2,500rpm. The Compass comes backing with a 3 years, 1,00,000kms standard warranty. FCA India has received close to 5,000 pre-bookings for the SUV and demand for the petrol weighs in at 15-20 percent of the total orders until now.
On the outside, the Compass bears design traits, making it immediately identifiable as a Jeep. The seven-slot grille upfront and a flat bonnet flanked by projector headlamps are instantly reminiscent of the flagship Grand Cherokee. The tyres doing duty on the SUV are 17-inches in rim size and boast a 225-section rubber patch.
The SUV, which has undergone testing for over 25.7 million kilometres under varied terrains and weather conditions around the world, comes with a Frequency Selective Damping (FSD) suspension and an all-wheel-drive system, offering sand, mud and snow modes to get across the power distributed to all four wheels, from primarily being a front-wheel-drive setup.
The SUV gets soft-touch textures for the interior plastic trims, a 7-inch HD UConnect touch-screen infotainment system, and also an all-leather cabin in the top-of-the-line Limited 4x4 variant. It misses out on cruise control and a sunroof as even options on any of the trims.
The safety kit includes six airbags, traction control, ESC, ABS with EBD, an electronic parking brake and electronic roll mitigation.
The development of the Jeep Compass focussed developing markets including India as the main target points, and the company has adopted a different approach strategy in bringing its supplier base in place in India, which aimed at low costs, by leveraging large amortisation volumes, and getting economies of scale.
The localisation structure for the model at the start of production is pegged between 63-65 percent, with plans to enhance it further to up to 70 percent in the next 18 months. The localisation levels for the SUV have already soared to close to 85-90 percent in China.
The company will be aiming for developing more components in India and then exported them to the other three manufacturing bases for the SUV. The Compass also utilises some high-tech modern age manufacturing techniques, including laser welding, special vacuum forming and also utilising pressed steel.
Retail network and aftersales focus
Started in 2016, the Jeep brand is quite nascent in the Indian market, working out its retail through FCA’s existing dealerships across the country and a few new ones, which tally up to close to 50 outlets. The number is pegged to grow, albeit gradually, with 10 more dealers setting shop in close to 2-4 months’ time, after the launch of the compact SUV.
On the aftersales front, Jeep has already roped in its global subsidiary, Mopar, to take care of the service and customer support for the brand’s vehicles in the country. From a current number of 48 Mopar authorised workshops in the country, the sister arm will be strengthening the independent service facilities of FCA in India, catering to customers of Jeep, Fiat and Abarth brands under its umbrella. Services like RSA, extended warranty, maintenance packages, insurance and express service will also be offered by Mopar.
FCA India has also recently appointed Raghavendra Kulkarni as its new head of aftersales operations, who will report directly to managing director, Kevin Flynn, and will be responsible for setting up of new workshops and driving all functions of FCA’s service operations in the country. He will oversee the implementation and expansion of Mopar workshops across India, and also strategise to introduce innovations in the brand’s service operations in the country.