Jeep's U.S. Sales Down 13 Percent This Year: Right Where We Wanna Be?
If 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.
The 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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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.
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?