Decision on Fiat 500-based Jeep Model Looms
The emergence of Jeep as a global brand with lofty sales ambitions means satisfying everyone, everywhere, no matter what the location or income of the would-be buyer. While Fiat Chrysler feels there’s definitely room to go bigger and pricier in the United States (we’re still waiting on that six-figure Grand Wagoneer), there’s also a desire to go smaller in overseas markets.
We’re talking sub-Renegade. And it just so happens Jeep has access to the platform underpinning the tiny Fiat 500 city car and plucky/adorable Fiat Panda that would make just such a model possible.
The question for Jeep is: does it really want to go there?
According to Automotive News, FCA’s off-road division is seriously considering a baby Jeep model. Brand boss Mike Manley said the brand is looking “very closely” at a sub-Renegade for European customers and other overseas buyers — a model that would remain off limits to space-hungry American buyers who enjoy stretching out in their vehicles.
Supplier sources claim Jeep’s discussions began early last year, with an Italian newspaper stating FCA’s Panda-building Pomigliano, Italy plant might serve as the production site. Such a vehicle, built on Fiat’s Mini platform, would stretch just a hair over 13 feet from stem to stern, it claimed. In contrast, a diminutive Fiat 500 spans just 11.6 feet.
There’ll soon be space at the Italian plant, too, as next-generation Panda production ships off to Poland.
While it’s possible company execs fear a baby model could water down the brand’s image, it’s far more likely that issues related to product development has kept the hypothetical model from receiving the green light. Manley said last year that any new Jeep will “still have to be capable” off-road.
Whatever the decision, we’ll probably see it show up in FCA’s five-year product plan, set for release in June.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]
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