Decision on Fiat 500-based Jeep Model Looms

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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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  • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on Jan 25, 2018

    I, for one, would give a sub-Renegade Jeep a serious consideration. I looked at the Renegade, and liked most of its attributes except how large it is. The "smallest" Jeep is actually larger than 2D Wrangler, although it is somewhat lighter. If I'm buying a car this big, I might as well buy Wrangler. If they can make something of Mazda CX-3 sized, but with a low gear, I will be seriously tempted to ditch the Wrangler. Now, I must admit that a FIAT 500 sized SUV might be just a little bit too small, but the article says that they want to make it a little longer, which would be perfect.

  • Mattwc1 Mattwc1 on Jan 25, 2018

    For FCA, it benefits them to increase the branding of Jeep. This will come at the expense of the loyalists but Jeep is the cash cow that keeps on giving. I remember when the Patriot/Compass twins came out and despite the loyalists complaints, the Wrangler continued to sell well. Chrysler had 2 models to sell to buyers with a lower barrier of entry to get into the Jeep brand. Fleet sales and cash on the hood(I see leftover Patriots/Compasses on the lots (6speed auto/2.4/awd) with serious cash on the hood. Probably 15-16k for potential buyers) Despite that fact that these models were/are outdated to the competition means little when they still sold in decent numbers until they were replaced. For FCA, the new Compass, Grand Cherokee, and Renegade bring a lot of buyers into the dealerships. The fact that these models even have a tangential relationship to the Wrangler is a PR bonus. The new sub-Renegade model will do further to help sales. FCA is reliant on Jeep to prop up the company.

  • Jeff S I haven't seen one of these since the 90s. Good find.
  • William Piper Ditch the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance for starters….Mitzu has probably benefited less than the other two partners and it has shackled any brand creativity moving forward.
  • Tassos I knew a woman in the area, a journalist (at least she claimed to be a reporter of some kind) who owned one of these tiny pickups with a manual transmission. SHe was only 40 at the time, but she must have been hard of hearing, because she would routinely forget to shift and we would go at fairly high speeds in very low gear, which made a huge racket, which did not seem to bother her (hence my deafness hypothesis). Either that, or she was a lousy driver. Oh well, another very forgettable, silly car from the 80s (and if my first and LAST VW, a 1975 Dasher wagon, was any indication, a very unreliable one too!)
  • Tassos Now as for the Z specifically, Car and Driver had a comparison test of the new Z400, a car that looks good on paper, with plenty of HP etc, but, despite the fact that the cars that win in those tests are usually brand new models that are more up to date than their aging rivals, the Z finished DEAD LAST in the test, to my ovbious surprise.
  • Arthur Dailey Sorry but compare that spartan interior to the Marks that Corey is writing about. 'A cigarette lighter'. Every Mark had 4 cigarette lighters and ashtrays. And these came standard with 'a 3.4-liter, 182-horsepower straight-six in the engine compartment and a five-speed manual transmission'. Those do not tick off many of the luxury boxes aspired to by 'the greatest generation'.Not sure about the 7 series but one of My Old Man's associates showed up once with a brand new 5 series circa 1977 and they gave him such a bad time that he traded it for a Fleetwood within a week.