Jeep (FIATY.PK) has some ambitious growth goals for the next three to four years, and it’s going to use the momentum generated by the new Cherokee and the upcoming Renegade crossover to achieve them. By 2018, the brand is hoping to at least double its global sales, aiming for 1.5 million units sold annually, with particularly strong growth coming from China and South America.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne will unveil the company’s five-year product and business plan at Chrysler’s Auburn Hills headquarters on Tuesday, lending more details to how the newly merged company will go about gaining traction in today’s more competitive than ever auto market.
Jeep, however, is still largely a niche player in the grand scheme of things and when compared to its far larger rivals. It sold 731,565 units last year, good for a 36 percent gain over 2012, thanks to the redesigned Cherokee and continued strength from the Grand Cherokee. To put that in perspective, Ford sold 763,402 F-Series trucks alone in 2013.
Production for the Renegade (pictured above) will begin in June at a Fiat plant in Melfi, Italy. The Melfi facility has capacity to produce about 150,000 Renegades per year, and it will initially supply the vehicle throughout the global market. The Renegade will be Jeep’s smallest offering, aimed at undercutting the entry-level compact crossover market that has seen tremendous growth over the past couple of years. It will compete directly with the Subaru XV Crosstrek, the Nissan Juke, and the soon-to-be-released Chevrolet Trax.
Fiat Chrysler will begin the pilot production of the Renegade for South America at a new plant in Pernambuco, Brazil, Automotive News reports. By late next year, Fiat Chrysler hopes to have localized production for Jeep in China, as well, to feed off the immense demand that the country offers.
Before the Renegade makes for land in China, though, the Cherokee will be the first arrival of the two. “Cherokee is the obvious choice to localize in Changsha,” Jeep brand head Mike Manley told Automotive News Europe in an interview at the Geneva Auto Show in March. Manley wants to get government approval to start Cherokee production by the end of 2014, the publication said.
China is growing steadily for Jeep, last year surpassing Canada with 60,000 sales to 44,700. However, it’s still considerably behind the U.S., which moved the bulk of Jeep’s sales last year, at 490,500 units sold.