Fans of the Jeep brand will soon enjoy some exciting new models.
Contained in a press release meant to announce new financial investment and new job creation at FCA were a few nuggets of information about the future of Jeep.
The off-road brand, along with Ram, is a fiscal powerhouse for FCA and brings in much of the profits that keep the lights on in Auburn Hills. This week’s announcement confirmed what we’ve been expecting for a long time: new product including a sorely needed three-row model.
FCA is calling them “Jeep-branded white space products” meant to compete in key market segments. The term ‘white space’ doesn’t refer to snow on Mars but instead is meant to reference markets in which Jeep does not currently play, such as the three-row market and uber-luxury segment. Speaking to those two rigs, the statement specifically says the Warren Truck 2017 investment will increase to $1.5-billion for production of an all-new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.
Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer? There’s only one word for that: awesome.
“Three years ago, FCA set a course to grow our profitability based on the strength of the Jeep and Ram brands by realigning our U.S. manufacturing operations,” said Mike Manley, Chief Executive Officer, FCA N.V. “Today’s announcement represents the next step in that strategy. It allows Jeep to enter two white space segments that offer significant margin opportunities and will enable new electrified Jeep products, including at least four plug-in hybrid vehicles and the flexibility to produce fully battery-electric vehicles.”
The same money will also provide funds for continued assembly of Ram 1500 Classic, indicating that Ram will continue building the old half-ton a lot longer than most people (including your author) initially thought. It’s a shrewd play, as the new truck can take care of the high-buck clientele while the older pickup can cater to folks looking for a deal. This will help Ram beat GM for the #2 spot in this segment. Both trucks will make scads of money for the company, since the new truck carries a hefty sticker and tooling for the old truck has been paid for many times over.
Also of interest are the statements that a $1.6-billion investment would convert Mack Avenue Engine Complex into manufacturing site for next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and an all-new three-row full-size SUV, mentioned earlier. A $900-million investment at Jefferson North will retool and modernize the plant for continued production of Dodge Durango and next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee with 1,100 new jobs expected. This tells us that both the Grand Cherokee and Durango are not going anywhere and are, in fact, soon to be the recipients of a major refurbishment.
All three assembly sites would also produce plug-in hybrid versions of their respective models with the flexibility to build fully battery-electric models in the future, including electrification of new Jeep models.
New Jeep products, a continuation of the Ram 1500 Classic, revised Grand Cherokee and Durango, and electrification for Jeep? That sounds like a winning (and profitable) plan to us. We’ll keep our ear to the ground and update you if we learn more specifics.
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