Because of software problems, several new Jeep Renegade subcompact crossovers have not been given to dealers, according to Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. He admitted that the Jeep Cherokee, which made its debut in 2013, also had a similar problem.
Marchionne made these statements last Tuesday after having been awarded by the SAE Foundation as the industry leader of the year. The launch of the Cherokee had to be put off for several months due to the software that controlled its nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive system.
The same nine-speed automatic is used on the Renegade but it uses a different all-wheel-drive system. He said that he is “having a very bad engineering day” and that his life has become “horrible” because of this vehicle’s set of attributes. Sales of the Renegade started in the middle of March.
Last April, there were 4,214 Renegades sold – higher than Compass sales. Marchionne said that the company is working on the software issues and announced that the Renegades that have been withheld will be released by the middle of June at the latest.
Furthermore, he shared that there has been a change in plans with the next-generation Jeep Wrangler. The previous plan had been for it to have an all-aluminum body. He also said that Wrangler would feature a “large portion” of aluminium components but not its entire body.
He said that it will maybe have a weight-reducing aluminum hood and tailgate. He said that the company has made its calculations and have conducted simulations to determine its mileage and impact response. However, there’s a difference in cost because of the material and the assembly process but he is confident that they can get “very close” to what can be achieved with all-aluminum.
If Jeep opted for the all-aluminium body, it would have meant that the current Wrangler plant located in Toledo, Ohio, will be completely refitted. An extensive plant revamp won’t be required if the aluminium components would merely be hung on a steel body.
Marchionne also announced that the next-generation Grand Cherokee, which was expected to arrive in 2017, may experience a delay so that it can be jointly developed with a higher-end Grand Wagoneer. The same platform will be used on these two vehicles.
Marchionne also provided updates about the Wagoneer that was set to start selling in 2018. He said that there may be a delay because to achieve an efficient joint development, it has to go with a “complete relook” at the architecture of the Grand Cherokee.
He said that the Wagoneer, which will be a luxurious three-row model, will rival the Range Rovers and other large luxury SUVs at prices much higher than the most-expensive current Grand Cherokee.
He also told reporters that FCA will cooperate with requests for information and join a hearing set on July 2 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about its response rate for 20 recall campaigns.