ALBA, Italy –- With three new SUVs, a key soccer sponsorship plus an expanded dealership network, Chrysler Group's Jeep brand aims for sales of 125,000 units in Europe by 2015.
That would be a big increase from Jeep's European sales of 23,745 units last year, but the brand has generated momentum. In 2011, Jeep was Europe's fastest-growing brand with sales up 62 percent, according to the European automaker association ACEA.
In the first four months of 2012, Jeep continues to be Europe's fastest-growing brand, with sales up 52 percent to 9,807 units.
"Our current [goal] is 30,000 European sales this year, but it is hard to predict how the market may perform for the remainder of the year," said Jeep Europe Marketing Director Yann Chabert at the European introduction of the Grand Cherokee SRT.
Worldwide, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to sell 800,000 Jeeps in 2014 –- up from 592,000 last year. Europe is Jeep's biggest export market. The U.S. brand originally wanted to sell 125,000 units here in 2014, but the weak market may delay that goal by a year, Chabert said.
Jeep will launch a trio of fuel-efficient SUVs that will boost sales in European countries that levy emission-based car taxes. Here's the lineup:
- Jeep's first small SUV will be a Fiat-based 4200mm long "baby" Wrangler code-named B-SUV. Starting in mid-2014, it will likely be built at Fiat's Mirafiori plant in Italy and sold in Europe, North America and South America. The vehicle will share its underpinnings with the Fiat 500X small crossover.
- A redesigned Cherokee medium SUV (called the Liberty in the United States) will be exported to Europe in the second half of 2013. The new model will be more fuel-efficient, with a 170-hp, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder Fiat diesel engine. About 95 percent of the Jeeps sold in Europe are powered by diesels.
- A single SUV will replace the Compass and Patriot compact models. About 4400mm long, the U.S.-built vehicle will arrive in Europe in late 2014.