DETROIT -- For the Chrysler group, it was either expand the Jeep line in western Europe or watch the competition get bigger and stronger.
The decision? Next year Jeep will increase its European model line to five nameplates, from three now. A sixth model could come in 2007.
"The Commander is the first part of our big Jeep product offensive," said Thomas Hausch, executive director of international sales and marketing.
The seven-passenger Commander, already on sale in the United States, will debut in Europe next spring, the company has said. The Compass hatchback, which is based on a compact car, will follow toward year end, according to industry sources.
The Patriot, a small crossover based on the same platform as the Compass, could appear in Europe in 2007.
Chrysler says it sold 30,348 Jeep vehicles in western Europe in the first 11 months of 2005, up 8 percent from the year-ago period.