From Renegade to Grand Wagoneer: Jeep’s Michael Manley on the Brand’s Future

#hashtags: #Numbers #Jeep #America #Honda #Hyundai #Dodge #Ram #Mike Manley #Fiat Chrysler Automobiles #Manley

Numbers don’t lie. If Jeep were a standalone brand, it would be the sixth best-selling brand in America behind Honda and before Hyundai. Jeep sold 706,471 vehicles through October, outselling Dodge and Ram by more than 270,000 units during the same time period. Jeep is killing it. Motor Trend got a chance to talk to Mike Manley, CEO of the Jeep and Ram brands (both part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), to find out what’s in store for Jeep enthusiasts and the brand in general. While top executives at FCA continue to rumble about mergers and future business structures, Manley seems more concerned about the products coming out of Jeep. The tiny Jeep Renegade appears perfectly timed to the growing trend of customers looking for small sport/utilities. “I’m very pleased with the Renegade launch,” Manley said. “It started at above 5 percent segment share in North America.” Additionally, Manley said there is a chance that in the future the Renegade could include an electric powertrain, as long as it does not compromise performance. As for the consolidation of the Jeep Compass and Patriot, Manley said those two vehicles will become one, though one of the two names could remain when it arrives. “Why would we spend all of that money to develop two names and then get rid of both of them?” he asked. Whatever the name, the vehicle will fit into the compact category the Compass and Patriot now share. I’m very pleased with the Renegade launch. It started above 5% segment share in North America. The Jeep Grand Cherokee will see a refresh next year, but the redesign was pushed back to 2018 or 2019 as Jeep spends more time with the upcoming Grand Wagoneer (arriving as a 2018), which Manley says will be a three-row luxury option meant to take on the likes of BMW, Audi, and Land Rover’s large SUVs. “I like that we have some flexibility in our timing for redesigns,” Manley said. “Any product plan continues to change.” Next year will also mark Jeep’s 75th Anniversary as a brand and will be noted in the Grand Cherokee’s extensive refresh, which Manley says will keep the already strong model relevant in the marketplace. Of course, there’s one vehicle Jeep has never announced it would build but grassroots grumblings continue to suggest: a Jeep pickup. Surprisingly, Manley never dismissed the idea. “This is one question we have every single time,” he said. “I’m very interested in doing one, a lifestyle pickup that represents the brand and speaks to the owner. I think a pickup in the Jeep brand would be a good addition.” That doesn’t mean Jeep will build one, but it also doesn’t mean it won’t. A new Wrangler, the most important Jeep in the lineup, will likely arrive around 2018 or 2019. Enthusiasts shouldn’t worry about major performance or aesthetic changes. “It will certainly be an evolution,” Manley said. “The Wrangler is the ultimate expression of the brand. I think everyone should drive the Wrangler—it expresses freedom and exploration. Who wouldn’t want that?”