TOKYO -- As other U.S. brands struggle in Japan, Jeep is forging ahead to its fifth straight year of sales increases and a solidified, if unlikely, spot as the No. 1 American brand here.
Jeep sales climbed 56 percent to 1,868 vehicles in the first three months of 2014 and are expected to eclipse 8,000 for the full year and 10,000 in 2015, Chrysler Group's local operation predicts.
Business will get a boost from May's introduction of the redesigned Cherokee and next year's arrival of the Renegade.
The numbers may seem small, but they are a victory in Japan, where import brands still account for just 5 percent of the market. And Jeep, surprisingly in a country that loves small cars and hybrids, is tops among American brands, outselling bigger mass-market compatriots such as Ford and Chevrolet.
"The positioning is very clear," says Pontus Haggstrom, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Japan. "We do only SUVs and we do them well."