Fiat Chrysler delays next Jeep Grand Cherokee – USA TODAY
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has delayed plans to introduce the next generation Grand Cherokee at least one year later than originally planned — even as the brand remains on track to reach its sales goal of 1.9 million by 2018, Jeep CEO Mike Manley says.
Manley said the company has decided to delay the all-new version of the Grand Cherokee until either late 2018 or 2019. The company’s product development plan initially called for the new version of the SUV to be introduced in 2017.
Despite that delay, Manley said, the brand is still rolling out new SUVs in North America and around the globe at a good pace. Jeep’s global sales are up about 20% year to date, Manley said, putting the brand on track to surpass 1.2 million this year.
In 2014, Jeep reached 1.02 million in sales, a rise of nearly 40% from the previous year.
Manley declined to specify why the company has decided to delay the next Grand Cherokee. He also emphasized the company plans to introduce a significantly updated Grand Cherokee next year to mark the 75th anniversary of the Jeep brand.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that FCA has delayed the development of as many as a dozen of its new cars over the next four years.
“Any product plan needs to stay pretty fluid,” Manley said during a product event at the company’s testing facility in Chelsea, outside of Detroit.
“If you look at the acceptance of the Grand Cherokee in the marketplace today, it’s still incredibly strong,” Manley said. “The level of refresh that we are planning next year is going to continue that momentum.”
Earlier this week, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne reconfirmed the company’s plans to spend 5 billion euro ($5.6 billion) to develop eight new Alfa Romeo cars and crossovers by 2018.
FCA is planning to spend $50 billion to develop new cars and trucks in a five-year plan designed to boost annual global sales to 7 million by 2018 from 4.75 million last year. Manley said the plans for Alfa Romeo are not pulling money away from Jeep’s product development plans.
He said plans for the development of the all-new Grand Wagoner for 2018 and the next-generation Wrangler for 2017 remain on track, even though the company has not yet decided where it will make the Wrangler.
Plans to develop a new crossover to replace the Jeep Patriot and Jeep Compass with a single SUV also are on schedule, Manley said. He declined to say what the next vehicle will be called but hinted that the company plans to keep one of the names.
“Why would we throw both of those names away?” Manley asked.
Manley said discussions are ongoing with officials in Toledo, Ohio as development officials there continue to try to convince the automaker to keep the Wrangler in its historic home.
In Toledo, the automaker is trying to figure out how to increase the plant’s capacity, decide if it will continue to produce the car in a joint venture with suppliers Kuka and Mobis, and determine if it can make it with an increased amount of aluminum at a price that is competitive with other U.S. plants.
The discussions have caused concern for workers and leaders in Toledo, the birthplace of the Jeep brand.
“It’s clearly a very important sensitive decision. Discussions are going to go along until they have reached the right conclusion,” Manley said. “Obviously we want a decision as soon as possible for everybody concerned.”