Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Fiat Chrysler, is aiming for the Jeep brand to double its global sales to over 1.5 million vehicles by 2018, sources told Automotive News Europe. Marchionne views Jeep as one of the main pillars of growth for Fiat Chrysler and is expected to disclose plans for the brand when he unveils a new five-year product and business plan for the merged company.
Jeep is the only brand expected to overshoot the sales targets that Marchionne set in November 2009. At the time, Marchionne wanted Jeep to sell over 800,000 units in 2014, from 497,000 in 2008. Now, Jeep is expected to sell over a million units this year, after selling 731,565 vehicles in 2013.
Seen to boost that growth is its new entry-level model – the Jeep Renegade, which production is due to start next month at Fiat Chrysler’s Melfi site in Italy. The site could produce 150,000 Renegades annually and would also build the Fiat 500X, which is also underpinned by the platform that underpins the Renegade.
Melfi will initially produce build the Renegade for global markets, with Fiat Chrysler’s Pernambuco site in Brazil starting pilot production of the vehicle for South America later this year. Fiat Chrysler's Latin America CEO Cledorvino Belini remarked last month that the Pernambuco site will be Fiat Chrysler’s “most advanced plant in the world” with the Renegade being its first product.
Fiat Chrysler expects to start Jeep output in China by late next year following an agreement with local partner Guangzhou Automobile Group. The carmaker disclosed last month that three Jeep models will be produced with Guangzhou Auto.
Sources in Italy told Automotive News Europe that the Renegade will be the first Jeep produced in Guangzhou, with a second Jeep model dubbed as 551 slated for production in 2016.
Wrangler has long been known for its aggressive proportions, rugged body forms, and powerful stance. Further, it has approach and departure angles that are the best in the class with the goal of being able to offer capability that is also the best in the segment. All of this is what the Jeep Renegade builds on. Looking on the front, any doubt that it is not Jeep is removed especially with the trademarked seven-slot grille.
Having those large circular headlamps on the top portion gives the front of the Renegade that expected Jeep look. Under the grille is a two-piece front fascia that has been tuned for aerodynamics with an upper portion in body color and the lower molded-in-color. The bodyside form meanwhile is rugged and this is due to the sculptural blend of fluid shapes, trapezoidal wheel arches, and short overhangs, which are interrupted by the powerful chamfers.
By having the design language of Jeep Wrangler, it allows the Renegade to have a raised belt line, wide fender forms, and muscular tires. This combination brings to mind the icon’s half-doors. Helping give the Renegade a more modern appearance is the daylight opening, that while remaining to be an option, is a nod to the classic Wrangler hardtop.
Moving to the sill, this new SUV from Jeep has the lower cladding with molded-in-color accent cladding that offers extra protection. Further, by the visual placement of the more painted body on top of the wheel centers, it resulted in the weight lightening. Linking the rear section and the side profile is the shield-shape which many Jeep fans are familiar with. It also ties the backlight in the rear with that of the Wrangler-like square tail lamps having the black accent surround.
As an added detail, the tail lamps have a new “X” form design theme that is inspired by military equipment, particularly a gas can. It displays strength while also playing on the roots of the brand. Similar to the first Willys MB Jeep models manufactured back in 1941, the new Renegade is able to offer an open-air freedom through two optional open-air roof systems. The first is the large dual pane electric sliding glass roof with the second being the “My Sky,” a feature unique to this segment.