Jeep CEO Speaks to the Future of the Brand — And Hybrids

Since Mike Manley took over as President and CEO — Jeep Brand in 2009 — the lineup has absolutely exploded from 330,000 in sales to more than a million in 2014. As he admitted during the launch of the Jeep Renegade in San Jose, California, this week, “Most would have thought it unlikely. It’s been quite a ride.” Manley sat down with BoldRide and discussed where the brand has been and where it’s going. Sales look to hit 1.8 million globally by 2018, with growing coming about because of small vehicles like the Renegade, big Jeeps like a Grand Wagoneer, and – dramatic pause – hybrids. RELATED: See More Photos of the 1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer It's inevitable there will be hybrids in the Jeep lineup in the near future, though no official plans have been announced, Manley said. It probably won’t be the Wrangler because of its off-road demands. Hybrids will come about because of CO2 demands worldwide and because the parent company, FCA, already has the technology in-house. New non-hybrid product is coming to Jeep, but Manley wouldn’t go into specifics (it’s that old OEM standby about not discussing future product). However, he did confirm that the least Jeep-like products – the Compass and the Patriot – are going to be replaced in 2017. A new Wrangler is also coming in the same time period, which points to a major brand overhaul in the coming two years. RELATED: See More Photos of the 2015 Jeep Renegade Latitude What’s bound to attract the most attention will be the Jeep Grand Wagoneer when it debuts in 2018. It slots in above the Grand Cherokee. Manley said the Grand Cherokee has played well in the premium segment but customers were demanding a three-row Jeep alternative. “The US is a great market for it,” said Manley. Plus, it’s a storied nameplate that would add a certain reverence to the lineup. Also on the product side, Manley said Jeep is not going to pull a reverse Porsche and start producing Jeep sedans and coupes. “Jeep is a pure SUV, off-road brand and will focus on that,” he said, during an interview at the launch of the Jeep Renegade in Hollister Hills, California. Manley said he’s surprised by the potential for the manual 1.4-liter Jeep Renegade in the United States – bucking the country’s trend toward automatics. “It’s a segment dominated by automatics but it’s ready for the manual transmission,” Manley said. RELATED: See How Jeep Hit One Million in Sales The one drawback is the six-speed manual is only available on the 1.4-liter turbo and not the more powerful 2.4-liter Tigershark engine. That’s mated to a nine-speed automatic. Manley feels there will be strong demand for the Renegade (with most customers seeking the front-wheel drive model in warmer climates). What’s particularly going to help Jeep in this sub-compact segment is it’s not competing against sedans and hatchbacks in its own showrooms, like other OEMs. Those owners will be strong conquests for the Jeep dealers. “People aren’t going to have to compromise anything to get that utility,” Manley said. No official fuel efficiency numbers have been announced yet because the Renegade goes on sale in mid-March. Manley and company execs are saying it should be about 30 mpg highway. RELATED: See Photos of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Photo Credit: Keith Griffin for BoldRide _______________________________________ Click Here to Read the Original Article on BoldRide

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