Baby Jeep to start production in Italy, will be offered in non-US markets

Article by Christian A., on January 25, 2018

As of today, Jeep’s smallest SUV would be the Renegade, measuring just over 13 feet (396 centimeters) long, and 5 feet (152 cm) tall. To compare that with its largest range topping model, the Grand Cherokee has impressive dimensions of 16 feet (487 cm) long and almost 6 feet (182 cm) tall - that depends on the trim level still. Now, the American automaker believes that they could go another size down from the Renegade, as they plan to introduce a new SUV to be built in Europe.

In an interview between Automotive News and Mike Manley, the automaker’s CEO, he mentioned that the company is looking into an SUV that will be sized smaller than the Renegade, which he refers to as the “baby” Jeep. If this model pushes through as planned, it will be built in Europe, and will be sold in markets outside of the United States. Too bad, the Americans won’t get a mini Jeep.

If everything goes as planned, the baby Jeep will be built where the Fiat Panda minicar is being built, at FCA’s factory in Pomigliano, near Naples in Italy. According to some sources, the American automaker has been tossing around the idea of a baby SUV at FCA’s Pomigliano plant since early last year, telling them that this model could be built on the same platform as the Panda, 500 minicars, and the Lancia Ypsilon. However, this project has suffered many stops and starts.

And speaking of the Panda, it was said that the next generation model will be produced in Poland instead of Italy. Sergio Marchionne, FCA CEO, announced during the 2017 Geneva Motor Show that the Panda will migrate to Poland just before the current decade ends. He also added that the Pomigliano plant will be able to handle building vehicles that are more complex than the Panda, hinting at the new Jeep.

Whether or not a production model of a baby Jeep is on its way, it will definitely still carry the go-anywhere DNA of all Jeep models. In fact, the smallest Renegade even has a rugged Trailhawk version complete with features including front and rear tow hoods, a slightly higher suspension, and a ‘Trail Rated 4x4’ badge on the fender.

Some of you may be wondering why a baby Jeep is necessary. Well, this is because there is a need to replace the Panda in Pomigliano, and at the same time, there is actually a growing appetite for small urban SUVs in Europe.

The Jeep Renegade is currently the automaker’s most affordable model, with a starting price of 20,000 euros for the two-wheel drive, and 27,500 euros for the four wheel drive. When a baby Jeep comes out, this will probably be priced a little lower than the Renegade.

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