Jeep confirms new compact SUV for India

by Nishant Parekh, Autocar India 02 Jun 2018


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 yesterday 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.

Autocar India broke the news about Jeep working on a sub-Renegade SUV (Codename: Jeep 526) back in November 2016. 

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 was prompted by the company's observation that sub-four-metre vehicles continue to account for a significant chunk of utility vehicle sales. 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.

Apart from the compact Jeep, the carmaker has also confirmed plans to introduce a "three-row mid-size UV" in India.

The global SUV market is expected to grow by as much as 25% by 2022 to 40 million units. 

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

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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. 

Also read: Jeep Compass sells 20,000 units within 9 months of launch in India