Jeep sales are up 36 percent there.
We've already noted that the Jeep brand is staking its claim in Japan. Now Q1 sales are in and the brand is up again, 36% in March over last year. The early adopters are expectedly, the young.
"I like outdoor activities and I was looking for a car that has high horsepower and can carry a lot of baggage," said 24-year-old Tsubasa Imai, who just bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee. "There also aren't too many cars in Japan that can tow a boat as well as look cool."
Jeep sales are expected to increase 5% this year to more than 15,000 units, said Hitoshi Ushikubo, the head of sales at Fiat Chrysler Japan, in an interview Monday. Automotive News notes that Fiat Chrysler Japan has yet to be merged with Peugeot in the company. But it will eventually fall under the new Stellantis name.
Jeep is the third most imported brand in the country and has seen people taking an interest in their vehicles' ability to tackle the outdoors. The coronavirus only added to the trend, considering people were less likely to take public transportation. Ford quit selling cars in the country in 2016 as its buyers mainly opted for small, fuel-efficient vehicles.
"We've made efforts to fit with the Japanese market" by rolling out cars with right-hand drive, unlike General Motors and Ford, Ushikubo said. "Young people are looking for cars that allow them to present a part of their character."
The brand is also planning to add 100 more dealerships in the country by 2023, hoping to increase sales even further.
The Jeep Wrangler and Renegade are the most popular, which makes sense. The chunky little Renegade gets 32 mpg on the highway. The Wrangler, well, it just does what almost no other car can do. We'll also be interested to see how the hybrid Wrangler 4xe does once it goes on sale globally.
Next, Jeep plans to send the Gladiator pickup, the new Grand Cherokee, and the Compass later this year. As much as we dislike the Compass here, we could see it catching on as it's the right size and level of efficiency. We'll be very interested to see how Gladiator does.