Jeep boss says U.S. fans will accept Italy-made Renegade

Article by Eugene Conan, on March 10, 2014

Mike Manley, Jeep brand boss, is confident that fans will be not discouraged from buying the Jeep Renegade even if it is made in Italy. The Renegade is the brand new entry model and will be the first Jeep produced outside of the United States. According to Manley, he has heard "nothing so far" from Jeep fans complaining that one of the brand’s models is being built in Italy, noting that Jeep customers are more concerned about off road performance.

"We needed to be able to trail-rate it," Manley told Automotive News at the Geneva auto show. "So the launch of the Trailhawk is very important," he said. Jeep unveiled the Renegade Tuesday in Geneva. The Renegade is underpinned by a platform that will also underpin the upcoming Fiat 500X. Both models will be produced in Fiat’s Melfi site in Italy.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief executive Sergio Marchionne has said that the Renegade will also be built in Brazil starting the first half of 2015.

The vehicle will be available in Europe by yearend and in the US in early 2015.  Supplier sources have told Automotive News Europe that Fiat and Jeep are planning an annual production of up to 280,000 units of the two models. Of the figure, Jeep's volume will be around 150,000, and Fiat's variant will be about for 130,000 units.

Manley said that Jeep will disclose pricing in the fourth quarter of this year in the US, and during the second quarter in Europe. Despite being built in Italy, the Renegade’s design cues do carry Jeep's American DNA.

"The Renegade's footprint is similar to one of the CJs," Manley said, referring to the civilian versions of the military vehicles in World War II. "It's much more Wrangler. We're very pleased, and I think it will work well in the United States."

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