CHELSEA, Mich. -- The single vehicle replacement for the Jeep Compass and Patriot will debut in late September in Brazil and will retain one of the two names, Jeep brand head Mike Manley said today.
Manley said the vehicle, known internally as the C-SUV, is not delayed and will be shown in the U.S. at the L.A. Auto Show in November. It will appear in U.S. dealerships in early 2017, Manley said.
Its official reveal in Brazil will be during a celebration of the start of production at FCA’s new Pernambuco assembly plant, which also builds the Jeep Renegade, Manley said.
The Compass replacement will share the smaller Renegade’s platform as well as its disconnecting front-wheel-drive-based drivetrain. For North America, the Compass replacement will be built in Toluca, Mexico, instead of the Compass’s current home in Belvidere, Ill. It also will be assembled in China for the Chinese market, with start of production scheduled for late this year.
“In every plant, the status of the launch is very much on track,” Manley said.
Manley said the vehicle has not changed since it was first shown to journalists in Detroit in December.
Speaking to reporters during Fiat Chrysler’s annual “What’s New” event for journalists at its Chelsea Proving Grounds here, Manley clarified the Jeep brand’s future product plans to go both smaller and larger.
He said he continues to study an entry-level Jeep that would be smaller than even the Renegade but would be sold primarily outside North America.
“I am right in the middle of that right now. I have a strong belief that there is an opportunity for a smaller Jeep, beyond Renegade. That opportunity lies … outside of NAFTA,” Manley said. “I’m not sure NAFTA would ever be the lead market for such a vehicle to be codeveloped with the next-generation Grand Cherokee onto a new platform.”
Manley said a Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are best thought of as luxury trim levels instead of wholly separate vehicles.
“The Wagoneeer name represents, historically, the pinnacle of premium for the Jeep world. But in the same way as you may have an Overland and a Summit, you have different trim levels, so you could imagine the use of Wagoneer to denote a really premium vehicle, and Grand Wagoneer takes it to the very next level,” Manley said. “So if you were to use that as your naming strategy, that’s exactly how I would use the trims.”
Manley said the next-generation Jeep Wrangler under development will be more fuel-efficient and is “on schedule and on track.” It will be introduced in the first half of 2017.
“To be honest with you, I’m delighted in the way it’s turning out, not just from a styling point of view, but from an overall point of what Wrangler stands for, I’m very pleased,” Manley said.
“We’ve made a large number of changes in terms of fuel economy, both enablers in terms of weight, with the aero[dynamics] of Wrangler, because at the end of the day, it needs to be recognized as Wrangler,” Manley said. “With weight [reductions] and a number of changes that we’ve made, you’re going to see that we’ve really pushed that vehicle forward in terms of fuel economy.”
On a related note, Manley set a hard date for the introduction of a long-awaited Wrangler-based pickup: Early 2018.
“Anything Jeep does has to have an inherent level of capability ... that drives some extent both the positioning of the vehicle and the cost of the vehicle,” he said. “I have no desire today to do a stripped-down” Jeep pickup.