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Jeep is the engine that drives Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Jeep sales are up 17 percent in the United States over 2015 record sales

In its 75-year history, Jeep never has been in better shape than it is right now.

The reason? Current owner Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has accomplished what a succession of previous owners only dreamed of: truly globalizing one of the world’s most storied automotive brands.

Worldwide, Jeep’s deliveries in 2015 topped 1.2 million vehicles, its fourth consecutive record year for global production and sales.

Jeep Renegades are now built in Europe (Italy), South America (Brazil) and Asia (China) for sale in those regional markets. By the end of the year, production of the replacement for the Jeep Compass will begin in Brazil and China, as well as Mexico. Jeep-branded vehicles also will soon begin rolling into India, with local production slated to begin in 2017.

Meanwhile, sales in Jeep’s largest and most profitable market, the United States, are up 17 percent through June over record 2015 sales.

Jeep’s lineup also is expanding. Brand head Mike Manley said last month that luxury full-size SUVs under the storied Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer names will return with the development of a redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee in 2019. On the other end of the size spectrum, a micro-segment Jeep, smaller than the Renegade, is under strong consideration, primarily for markets outside North America.

Photo: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee TrailhawkPHOTO BY JEEP

Meanwhile, FCA is expanding production capacity of its profit-rich Wrangler by at least 50 percent, allowing the brand to fulfill what it sees as unmet domestic and international demand. The added capacity also will allow for the return of a pickup to the Jeep lineup for the first time since 1996.

CEO Sergio Marchionne says Jeep is the engine that keeps his company going, no matter how tough the economic circumstances become.

“One of the things that we’ve always faced in the United States in the production of Jeeps is to make this unfortunate Sophie’s Choice about whether we sell in the U.S. or whether we sell overseas,” Marchionne explained this year. “In the last probably three or four years especially, we’ve been forced to make choices about which markets get allocated product.

“Even if there were to be a contraction of the U.S. market, there is unexplored potential in terms of outside U.S. markets, especially where we have not established local production,” he said.

“Anything which relates to either a Cherokee or a Grand Cherokee and eventually a Wagoneer or Wrangler will have additional means of expression in international markets.”

The article “Jeep is the engine that drives Fiat Chrysler globally” first appeared on Automotive News.

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