Chrysler Group LLC’s Jeep division is contemplating entering new segments and adding new powertrains to its lineup.
Among the possibilities are a hybrid or pure-electric vehicle, a smaller Jeep and a model larger than the new Grand Cherokee, CEO and President Mike Manley tells Ward’s at the North American International Auto Show here.
“We definitely see new body styles,” he says. “We’ve talked about a small Jeep, and I think there’s also an opportunity for a larger Jeep, like maybe a 3-row Grand Wagoneer. And we’ve had many discussions about what we’re going to do with (the) Wrangler.”
Jeep built the Wagoneer large SUV and its derivatives from 1963 to 1991. Reviving the model would provide a direct competitor for the all-new Ford Explorer, which has three rows of seats compared with the Grand Cherokee’s two rows.
Ford executives have said the third row is a critical buying point for the Explorer and one reason they don’t view the Grand Cherokee as a competitor.
Manley also says there is a “huge demand for a Wrangler pickup,” and we’re working “very hard on that.”
Although he stops short of confirming the pickup has been approved, media reports indicate Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has said a "multipurpose" vehicle with “a truck bed” is in the works.
Jeep built a Wrangler-style pickup, dubbed the Scrambler until the late 1980s, and also produced a Comanche midsize truck based on the base Jeep Cherokee SUV.
Additionally, Manley says there are “plenty of opportunities” to integrate an electrified powertrain into a Jeep model, citing the ability to tap into partner Fiat Group Automobiles SpA’s resources.
“I think one of the great things about our alliance with Fiat is we're able to use technology that’s already available within our family,” he says.
But while an electric model would be a good way to help meet strict government-mandated fuel-economy regulations, Manley says it’s more important to maintain Jeep’s rugged off-road reputation.
“Electric technology for Jeeps, with their capability, may be tougher to do, but it’s something we continue to monitor,” he says. “As I look out to the future, Jeep will certainly be competitive in those areas when the market place is completely ready for it.”