INTERVIEW: Jeep Wants Something Even Smaller Than The Renegade

Crossover

We spoke with CEO Mike Manley about Jeep’s ambitious expansion plans.

Jeep’s product expansion plans revealed back in 2014 are well on track. And after speaking with Jeep CEO, Mike Manley, at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, we learned there’s more to come from the Toledo-based carmaker. With plants in China, Mexico, India and Brazil, and a recent $700M investment in its hometown factory, Jeep’s blue prints for globalization have become a concrete reality. That five-year plan began with a new Renegade, which was unveiled two years ago in Geneva.

An instant hit with buyers in the US, Brazil and Europe, the opportunity to build on the baby Jeep’s success is now being seized with the launch of the just-revealed Compass. Alas, we’ll have to wait until the LA Auto Show before seeing the new SUV in the metal, after which it will be doing the car show rounds in Detroit, Geneva an China. The thirst for crossovers cannot be quenched, and the world’s car buying public is sure to lap up Jeep’s newest offering in markets across the globe. For now, we’ll put a pin in that particular model until we get to LA. We asked whether the Jeep boss whether he was surprised by the Renegade’s success.

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“Living with the car for a couple of years during its development, we were convinced the Renegade would be a hit and our sales forecast made at launch was perfectly judged. It’s the best-selling car in its class in the US and Brazil, and second in Italy.” We spent time with the Renegade earlier this year, and loved its inner city practicality. Equally impressive was Jeep’s DNA, apparent both in its aesthetics and offroad capabilities. So, is that something Jeep could translate to a smaller Renegade? “Yes,” Manley enthused. “A sub Renegade is being explored and is something I’m really excited about.”

Giving the Renegade a baby brother to play with is a no brainer given the insatiable appetite for small, B-SUV crossovers. And if its fun-loving nature can be maintained, Jeep has got another hit on its hands.

“We’ll have to make sure the car has off-road characteristics like decent ground clearance and a four-wheel drive system, and we’ll need to be careful with its geometry.” Manley remained tightlipped on when we may see the little Renegade (Pioneer? Liberator? Navajo? Patriot?) but when that time comes don’t expect to see a concept first. “I don’t believe in concepts (concepts that hint at future models, not Moab-style concepts), so once the car is green-lit for production, we’ll reveal a proper pre-production model.”

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