And it's about to make a production decision.
Right now the smallest Jeep you can buy is the Renegade, but that may soon change. Automotive News is reporting that Jeep is very close to making a decision to launch a new subcompact SUV for the global market. However, its chances of arriving in the US are pretty slim. Supposedly, this new “baby Jeep” would be built on the same platform as the Fiat 500 and Lancia Ypsilon. In fact, it wouldn’t even be produced in the US, but rather in Italy at the same facility that builds the Fiat Panda, which also rides on the same platform as those two models.
The Panda is offered in a 4x4 variant as well as the Panda Cross, meaning it’s mechanically possible to make a subcompact crossover SUV at least somewhat off-road capable. However, it’ll have to meet specific Jeep brand standards, so a simple Panda reskin definitely won’t cut it. FCA won’t make a final decision until this June. At that time it’ll present its five-year plan that’ll get it through 2022. Having a mini subcompact SUV, especially in Europe, is important these days, less so in the US. That’s why Jeep figures the Renegade, which is about to undergo a mid-life refresh, should remain its smallest vehicle offering.
Americans, at least for now, are not interested in mini SUVs as much as European buyers. Coincidentally, Jeep is having some sales issues, especially in Europe, these days. Cherokee sales have sort of gone flat and Jeep can’t allow this trend to continue. Basically, if the Cherokee can’t hack it, sales wise, in Europe, then another vehicle will have to step up.