By on July 24, 2017

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass - Image: JeepIf the rate of growth FCA’s Jeep brand experienced in the United States in 2016 could be carried forward into 2017, Jeep would sell 1,000,000 SUVs/crossovers this year.

Count the zeros. 1 million.

For a company that sold fewer than 300,000 vehicles per year coming out of the recession, that’s an absurd figure.

Jeep earned 5.4 percent of the overall auto market in the first half of 2016, yet through the first half of 2017, Jeep’s market share has taken a dive to 4.8 percent. In a market gone mad for utility vehicles — where sales of SUVs/crossovers are up 6 percent, year-over-year, despite the market’s downturn — no-car Jeep is losing sales faster than every auto brand aside from Chrysler and Smart.

Worrying? According to Jeep boss Mike Manley, Jeep is, “exactly where I thought we would be in the U.S.”

There are reasons to be unconcerned.

Although it would be wonderful for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles if Jeep could power through a massive year of transition, buoyed along by a rising SUV tide, Jeep’s circumstances simply don’t allow for it.

The discontinuation of the Patriot and the replacement phase for the Jeep Compass isn’t going to result in big volume — not at first. Moreover, Mike Manley tells the Detroit Free Press that the Compass is becoming less fleet-oriented. “This is an investment in the future of the brand,” Manley says, “and that to me is the most important thing.”

Joint Patriot/Compass sales are down 49 percent. In fact, if you take away the loss of 54,652 Patriot and Compass sales, Jeep volume is essentially flat in 2017, year-over-year.

Then there’s the Jeep Wrangler, which is in the current generation’s eleventh model year. The Wrangler is due to be unveiled in all-new form in November. The Wrangler hasn’t even been properly refreshed since 2012.

Wrangler volume is nevertheless down just 2 percent, though sales have dropped in each of the last four months.2017 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Trailhawk - Image: JeepThe Jeep Cherokee, meanwhile, has lost one-fifth of its 2016 volume in the first-half of 2017, a drop of 19,634 sales for the Jeep brand through six months. The Cherokee is no fresh face; numerous rivals have been replaced since its late 2013 arrival. Indeed, TTAC suggested that the new Jeep Compass is a fitting rival for the Cherokee right inside Jeep showrooms.

Cherokee sales have now declined in ten consecutive months.

Modest Renegade gains and a Grand Cherokee that’s on track for its best year since 2000 are keeping Jeep from falling even further and faster.

But until the new Compass is fully on stream, until the L.A.-debuted Wrangler goes on sale in 2018, and until there’s a Cherokee refresh early next year, Jeep isn’t operating as its strongest self.

That doesn’t mean the brand has lost all momentum; that Jeep won’t soon sell 1,000,000 vehicles in the United States or 2,000,000 vehicles globally. Jeep remains an SUV powerhouse, soon to be bolstered by an enlarged lineup.

However, Jeep is also facing more and more competition in an SUV/crossover sector in which the seven-slat grille once made up a far greater chunk of the available options. The Renegade is gaining subcompact crossover alternatives. Nissan is squeezing the Rogue Sport into the Compass’s space, below the Rogue and Cherokee. Honda reportedly wants to slot a vehicle in between the Pilot and CR-V.

Jeep hasn’t been the only player in town for decades, but there are surely far more alternatives now than there ever were.

Nevertheless, Manley told the Detroit Free Press, “If you look underneath the numbers, we’re doing exactly what we said.” Jeep’s expectations for 2017 were evidently not that lofty.

But next year? That’s when a 13-percent decline will be downright unacceptable.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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31 Comments on “Jeep’s U.S. Sales Down 13 Percent This Year: Right Where We Wanna Be?...”


  • avatar
    dmoan

    I got a Cherokee TH for a lease heavily discounted and also ton of cash thru trade in. I love it’s features compared to my other SUV and it has Active drive so it has pretty good clearance and V6 to top it off.

    But by god the quality is horrendous, Tail function malfunctioned, display went blank couple times, numerous start all under one year. In spite of paying very little in my lease payments I am trying my best to get out of it.

    Now Jeep has New Compass which will eat into Cherokee’s sales. Rather than working on a new 7 seater good move Sergio..

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    The Renegade – especially in 2WD stripper form – kept popping up in my “affordable vehicles with stick shift” searches. It was tempting, but not enough to overcome my suspicion that I would have been unhappy with the fit ‘n’ finish / reliability. But maybe I’m wrong? *shrugs*

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The fit-n-finish of the one I test drove when the Renegade first came out was appalling. Unpainted primered areas on the subframe and a loose headlight switch in the dash are the first memories I have. Perhaps FCA makes them better now.

      The drive was very darty and noisy, and the 2.4/9A was (until then) absolutely the worst drivetrain combo I’ve ever driven. Only the Focus 2.0/DCT is worse in my experience. I’ve read that the 1.4T/6M is better.

      • 0 avatar
        bill h.

        We have nearly 30k miles on our 2015 (first year no less), with the 1.4T/6M and in fairly plain Latitude 4×4 trim. So far the only issue we had was the bluetooth quitting on the UConnect/radio, so that was replaced under warranty. We’ve taken it on quite a few long distance trips and driven it many times all over NYC streets, and it’s still pretty solid and rattle-free. I like the manual/turbo drivetrain, and we routinely get over 30 mpg in mixed driving, with up to 35 mpg on the highway–granted while not setting any speed records. I can understand many folks’ trepidation with this Fiat/Jeep, but our experience so far has been decent.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Subaru has been on the same track as Jeep since 2008/9, and their 2017 will be flat compared to 2016.

    Perhaps product staleness is part of the lull, but perhaps it’s something more foreboding – like financing stresses in the market.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Shame Jeep doesn’t have a single product I would buy.

    Can’t get past the safety factor on Wranglers to use as a daily driver. If I was going to buy a wheeling only rig, used would be the way to go.

    Cherokee is an abomination. I had an XJ once. Great all around vehicle, and once you throw on a mild lift and good tires, very capable off-road.

    Grand Cherokee has gone full soccer mom. Never go full soccer mom.

    Jeep makes some other vehicles apparently that don’t even register on my radar.

    One day, we may see a Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer revival. I’m sure they will muck it up with “modern” styling. The originals were perfectly styled, and remain so. There’s a reason that they show up in advertisements for WASP clothing brands. The next Wagoneer will never achieve this — that torch has been passed to the first generation XC90.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      The Wrangler is safe for everyday driving. It scores well in frontal impact, and it passes side impact. It is the only vehicle I know of that comes standard with an integrated tubular steel roll cage. Despite what you may have heard, the vehicle does not really pose a rollover threat in everyday driving. It’s prone to rolling in extreme side hill conditions, which you will never find on-road. If someone hits you and flips your Jeep, you’ll be in about the only vehicle designed from the ground-up to survive a rollover accident.

      The problem with everyday driving is the poor fuel economy, lack of interior refinement (road noise, climate control), and the poor ride. The somewhat inhospitable interior climate can be alleviated for JKs by purchasing the hard top with window tint and integrated heat shielding.

      The only time I’ve ever been scared in a Wrangler is on unmaintained county roads at high altitude. If you hit a bad section of washboarding, and you’re speed is too high, you can get violent resonance in the suspension. You can’t steer. You can’t brake. You are literally being shaken right off the side of the mountain. Toyota 4Runners and Nissan Xterras will drive right over washboard with their independent front suspension. JK’s are marginal on washboard surfaces, TJs are sketchy, YJs/CJs with their leaf springs will kill you. The Unlimited models have a longer wheelbase that suppresses yaw on bumpy surfaces, but proceed with caution whenever you encounter a washboard road surface.

      • 0 avatar
        freekcj

        “The somewhat inhospitable interior climate can be alleviated for JKs by purchasing the hard top with window tint and integrated heat shielding.”

        Ugh, what’s the point then? Part of the appeal of the Wrangler is taking off the soft top and enjoying the drive. (doors too for that matter) Why worry about interior refinement? – NOT why you bought a Wrangler.

        I agree to every other point. It’s perfectly safe, but it’s noisy, not the best handling, and it doesn’t get great mpg numbers (most SUV’s don’t).
        Paired with the 6M trans and if your not in a big rush, it does OK.

        Slow down on the back country roads – it’s not a Group B rally car. And if you don’t think a Toyota pickup won’t step out on you on washboard roads, you are mistaken.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m certain that in a shrinking market this is to be expected, but if it points to something more sinister, like prospective buyers are tiring of reliability and quality issues, well, then it’s a whole new ball game.

    I still believe Ford would build a much better Jeep if they owned the brand, and a lot of the Jeep’s problems would go away (I hope).

    Time will tell…

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Two factors, first FCA has “adjusted” how they are reporting sales after a federal probe into their practices. This coincides with year over year decreases ever since. My guess is that they were over inflating their sales increase and now with the real numbers their sales have come back down to earth.

    Second, they discontinued the Patriot which is a huge drag without new product like the Wrangler and Wagoneer to help lift sales. They should have pulled a Dodge Grand Caravan move and kept the Patriot in production for fleet sales for another year or two.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    I full recommend the Jeep Grand Cherokee. IMO the best value SUV on the market. Just stay away from all the high end models (unless you want the speedy SRT). Get the Laredos with 4×4 and they last a lifetime. Hope Jeep never redesigns the Grand Cherokee.

    • 0 avatar
      EX35

      JGCs last a lifetime? The Jeep forums are filled with horror stories on owners having major issues with late model JGCs.

      • 0 avatar
        pmirp1

        The Pentastar engine/8 speed automatic transmission has no problems. What stories you read about are all the high end widgets for auto cruise and so on. The meat and potatoes Grand is absolutely the best SUV out there, hence why you see the sales figures you do. It has passed the test of time, the GREATEST test as manifested by sales numbers.

  • avatar
    carve

    I wish Jeep would have more than one serious, tough off-roader. The Wrangler has gotten so big, I’d like to see a modern take on a little CJ-5/Suzuki Samuri. Make it bare bones and cheap…like a UTV that passes safety specs and with a heater, AC, and a little sound insulation. This is what the Renegade should have been.

    On the other end, something like a Wagoneer/Commander would be nice.

    • 0 avatar
      Pete Zaitcev

      I used to think that something like Toyota/Daihatsu Rush would be nice. But there are reasons why the smallest Jeep-branded vehicle, Renegade, is so gigantic. You just cannot sell small SUV profitably anymore, even in Europe or LATAM. As for the U.S. market, forget it.

      To begin with, the CAFE footprint formula penalizes smaller vehicles, or rather penalizes the makers of smaller vehicles.

      Also, preferences are real. Look at a comment by “Garrett” above, where he proclaims that he will not buy Wrangler because of “safety concerns”. It does not matter if the safety concerns are borne out of hard data or brain disease and statistical illiteracy. People just won’t buy small.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The new Compass looks really nice on the road. It gives off a Range Rover Evoque vibe.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Sales numbers are interesting, but what’s the profit picture? I doubt they were making a penny on those Patriot sales…

  • avatar
    TW5

    I’m happy Jeep has competent people in budgeting and sales forecasting, but their forecasting accuracy disguises the incompetence of the marketing and product people.

    Okay, Jeep has been on a tear for the last half decade, but so has Subaru, though Subaru has changed very little in their lineup. Therefore, Jeep is the benefactor of consumers yelling “shut up and take my money!!” to specialty SUV brands with lifestyle cache. Subaru is still growing. Jeep has taken a nose dive.

    Jeep can try to deny it, but the company is run by incompetent product people. Jeep deftly blamed (or maybe enthusiasts blamed) Mercedes for making the Grand Cherokee a plush unibody vehicle suitable for soccer moms who want independent suspension. Grand Cherokee volume improved, but there was also pent-up demand for a mildly sophisticated non-Wrangler offroad vehicle with respectable fuel economy. Jeep then killed the Liberty because it doesn’t quite satisfy the aforementioned consumer segment (mainly mpg), they teased a new Cherokee, and they proceeded to deliver an ugly, overly-complicated front-wheel drive shopping cart. Everyone knew sales were going to tank when the Cherokee novelty wore off. The Renegade was a good product decision, although they killed another legendary sub-brand when they chose the name. Unfortunately, Jeep followed the Renegade by deciding to kill the Patriot and keep the Compass.

    In the last decade, Jeep marched the Cherokee down the trail of tears, and then it killed off two nameplates which have ties to America and which were regarded as compromised yet somewhat-respectable (despite the Patriot’s awful build quality). Inexplicably, Jeep has redesigned the Compass, a vehicle known for being a buzzy, utility-less, tin can driven erratically by inebriated sorority sisters.

    Subaru give the Impreza a lift kit and updates the Forester and Outback. They are still growing. Jeep reinvents the wheel, their sales drop 13% during the SUV boom. A tale of two SUV/CUV companies.

    • 0 avatar

      The new Cherokee far outsold even the best year of the liberty and more then doubled what it was selling towards the end. While I think it could have been designed better by any reasonable measure the new Cherokee was a win for FCA if they can get the sales to level off at 150k a year or better it will be a huge win.

      • 0 avatar
        dmoan

        It sold well in 2015 but Sales are falling because of reliability issues. They are down 30% this year and on pace to less than 140k and that was before New Compass came into picture. With Compass cannibalizing sales they will be lucky to hit 100k.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        @mopar4wd

        Chevrolet did the same thing with the Equinox. Brilliant product decisions not not sell Cherokees. It was merely introducing a new vehicle into a white-hot market segment.

        Despite the high sales volume, the Cherokee gets pummeled by the CR-V, RAV4, Rogue, Escape, and Equinox. In other words, Jeep is last in the midsize CUV segment among the major mainstream competitors, which might be acceptable if the Cherokee weren’t a shopping cart. Jeep did manage to outsell Hyundai. That’s a modest victory. The mitigating circumstance is that Patriot, Renegade, and Compass added another 300,000 sales in 2016, which is vastly superior to other manufacturers subcompact lineups. I suppose that is the silver lining.

        Also, if Cherokee volume stabilizes at 150K, Jeep will be selling less than half of Honda’s, Toyota’s, and Nissan’s midsize CUV volume. Jeep is an offroad SUV/CUV brand backed by a major automobile manufacturer. 150,000 units would be totally unacceptable, unless they were selling nothing but high margin Trailhawks and 4×4 Latitudes.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The old Compatriots were low margin models that tended toward fleet volume. Dropping them might lose market share but margins are up and profitability won’t be greatly affected. If anything profitability will imporve as capacity is better utilized for more profitable units.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        @danio3834

        I’m not opposed to Jeep choosing margins over sales volume, but how is this strategy served by redesigning the Compass, undisputed turd of the Jeep lineup, and scrapping the Patriot, which actually had a quirky following?

        For reasons I don’t quite understand, quite a few people bought the Freedom Drive II models and made enthusiast videos highlighting the inadequacies of the vehicle, but also highlighting the vehicle’s ability to get drivers into fun places where they could get stuck.

        Unless Jeep is planning a new Patriot, they have made an egregious error. Keeping the name Compass was an error, regardless.

        • 0 avatar
          Timothy Cain

          Jeep has their reasons for the name swap/change/exchange.

          https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/09/americans-prefer-patriot-jeep-killing-keeping-compass-name-instead/

  • avatar
    memremkr

    FCA tanks in the quality department. I got burned on a 2015 Cherokee that was in the shop for its ZF 9spd way too many times. Jeep did everything they could, one persons opinion, to bury a mechanical problem by dumbing down the trans through software and not “making it right” by fixing the mechanical problem. This on a number of late 2014 early 2015 build Cherokees. The trans has been a whole lot better since 2016 (now that they had two model years of owners testing it for them-although its still funky)). I’ve rented the 2018 Compass and good luck if you like a stop start system from hell, ZF 9Spd (still funky) and an air conditioning system with the left center vent blocked by the steering wheel. Not to mention it handles no where near as well, nor is nearly as comfortable, as the current generation Cherokee. I owned a 2015 Cherokee and outside of the trans I think it was one of the most comfortable riding, quiet vehicles I’ve owned. Tracks down the highway like its on rails. Whatever you do I suggest that if you just have to have the Compass….. spend the extra couple of bucks and buy a Cherokee. Its pretty much a mini-me wanabe of the Cherokee anyhow, and you can get killer deals on the 2017 Cherokee, unlike the “cute little Compass” that will likely pad FCA’s wallet for the first year of production while you the buyer tool around in mini-me.

  • avatar

    Sergio steered FCA into the iceberg long ago. FCA is now reliant on their slumping SVU and trucks to carry the company. That is why it was important to keep the 200 and Dart around. In 2015 the 200 was the company’s best selling car.

    What kind of lunatic would want to purchase a FCA franchise?


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