Cherokee Isn't Slowing Down Other Jeeps

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

On a percentage scale, through the first seven months of 2014, the only auto brand improving its year-over-year U.S. sales tally more proficiently than Jeep is Maserati. In other words, Jeep is the fastest-growing volume auto brand in America in 2014.

Based on pure volume gains, no auto brand, certainly not Maserati, has improved on its seven-month 2013 sales total as successfully as Jeep has, with 120,708 extra sales over the last seven months.

Subaru sales are up by 43,131 units. The Ram brand is up by 44,916 units. The Toyota brand is up by 60,146 units. Nissan brand sales are up by 84,295 units.

At this stage last year, including 6048 Libertys and not a single Cherokee, Jeep had sold 271,682 vehicles in the United States. Jeep has sold 392,390 vehicles so far this year, making Jeep Chrysler Group/FCA’s highest-volume brand. (The historic pairing of Dodge and Ram have combined for 602,098 sales year-to-date.)

Things could be different. What if the Liberty simply expired? What if FCA decided to rely on the aging, never-completely-loved Compass and Patriot in the small crossover arena? It’s not as though automakers haven’t allowed vehicles to run a long course before. What if Jeep decided to reject a Fiat car-based architecture and styling that was, especially when the vehicle debuted, shocking?

What if the Cherokee had not returned?

First, we have to realize the hypothetical nature of the question, as evidenced by its, “What if,” opening. We can’t know how many Cherokee sales were generated by buyers who would otherwise have selected a Patriot, or perhaps a low-end Grand Cherokee, or maybe even a Wrangler.

Second, we should remember that while the Cherokee isn’t an outright top seller – the Honda CR-V sells nearly twice as often – or even the top-selling Jeep, it has quickly become a common sight on U.S. roads. It’s America’s ninth-best-selling utility vehicle so far this year; 95,259 have been sold in 2014 in addition to the 25,786 sold in the latter stages of 2013.

150,000 Cherokee sales, perhaps 165,000, are to be expected by calendar year’s end. Those numbers are similar to the Liberty’s figures from its heyday: an average of 167,000 were sold annually between 2002 and 2005, when Jeep’s lineup didn’t include a four-door Wrangler, a Patriot, or a Compass.

Excluding the Cherokee from Jeep’s sales tally this year sees the brand’s total volume fall from 392,390 units to 297,131 over the last seven months, or 25,449 more sales than the brand generated during the same period one year ago, a 9.4% increase.

In other words, without the Cherokee, Jeep is still a healthy brand, as the hugely inexpensive Compass and Patriot (up a combined 16% to 90,224 sales year-to-date) increase their volume, as the Grand Cherokee rises 9.4% to a Jeep-high 104,782 units, as total Wrangler volume jumps 10.8% to 102,125 units.

On the other hand, Jeep would not lay claim to Fastest Growing Auto Brand status.

Surprise of the day: expanded product ranges help. Mitsubishi, the next-fastest-growing brand, with a 28.9% year-to-date improvement, has produced meaningful volume gains only because of the Mirage. Without that car, which wasn’t on sale at this time last year, Mitsubishi is up just 1.3%. Talk about brands that have evolved. Or devolved. Eleven years ago, a 25.6% decline meant Mitsubishi sales fell below 257,000 units. In a vastly improved 2014, Mitsubishi might sell 80,000 new vehicles.

Jeep should top 650,000 U.S. sales by year’s end. Next year, with the Renegade assisting, we could be having this discussion again.

Timothy Cain
Timothy Cain

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  • Billfrombuckhead Billfrombuckhead on Aug 11, 2014

    The new Altitude package will increase male participation in Cherokee sales. I bet the Renegade won't cannibalize any other Jeep either.

  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Aug 14, 2014

    I actually don't mind the Cherokee's looks much anymore. I think it's because I see them constantly and I'm just used to it now. I can't get used to the Fiat 500 at all. No matter what they do to "macho" it up, I don't see anything but "Chickmobile" when I see one.

  • MaintenanceCosts "But your author does wonder what the maintenance routine is going to be like on an Italian-German supercar that plays host to a high-revving engine, battery pack, and several electric motors."Probably not much different from the maintenance routine of any other Italian-German supercar with a high-revving engine.
  • 28-Cars-Later "The unions" need to not be the UAW and maybe there's a shot. Maybe.
  • 2manyvettes I had a Cougar of similar vintage that I bought from my late mother in law. It did not suffer the issues mentioned in this article, but being a Minnesota car it did have some weird issues, like a rusted brake line.(!) I do not remember the mileage of the vehicle, but it left my driveway when the transmission started making unwelcome noises. I traded it for a much newer Ford Fusion that served my daughter well until she finished college.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Couple of questions: 1) who will be the service partner for these when Rivian goes Tits Up? 2) What happens with software/operating system support when Rivia goes Tits Up? 3) What happens to the lease when Rivian goes Tits up?
  • Richard I loved these cars, I was blessed to own three. My first a red beauty 86. My second was an 87, 2+2, with digital everything. My third an 87, it had been ridden pretty hard when I got it but it served me well for several years. The first two I loved so much. Unfortunately they had fuel injection issue causing them to basically burst into flames. My son was with me at 10 years old when first one went up. I'm holding no grudges. Nissan gave me 1600$ for first one after jumping thru hoops for 3 years. I didn't bother trying with the second. Just wondering if anyone else had similar experience. I still love those cars.
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