Jeep is on track to meet Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne's ambitious goal of selling 1 million vehicles globally in 2014.
The SUV brand sold about 747,000 vehicles through September, already topping last year's all-time global sales record of 731,565, according to Jeep Marketing Director Jim Morrison. The sales mark Jeep's fifth consecutive year of sales increases globally and in the U.S.
"It's been a lot of hard work and a lot of fun to go and try and get that goal," he said during a recent phone interview. "We're on track and we need to keep the momentum for the balance of the year in order to obtain the 1 million goal."
The goal, if achieved, would be a 37 percent increase for the brand compared to 2013.
Marchionne announced the 1 million target in January during a press conference at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Automotive analysts at the time called the goal ambitious but attainable given Jeep's momentum and new offerings in the marketplace.
"The biggest part, and what we're proudest of ... is that every Jeep is up," Morrison said. "We're not taking all of our customer base and rejuvenating them; we're bringing new customers to the brand and every Jeep is continuing to grow."
In the U.S., sales were up 45 percent to nearly 516,400 vehicles sold through September. The impressive sales, according to TrueCar.com, come with Jeep's average buyer incentives of $2,113 being the lowest of any Chrysler brand and about $650 lower than the industry average of $2,768.
Sales of the Cherokee and all-new Renegade are expected to particularly help Jeep hit its sales goal during the last three months of the year. The midsize Cherokee will continue gaining incremental sales in China and Europe, and the subcompact Renegade arrived in European showrooms last week. The Renegade is expected to arrive in U.S. showrooms at the end of the year, followed by full inventories in early 2015 — helping Jeep continue its momentum into next year.
Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer said he isn't surprised that the Jeep brand is on track for 1 million sales globally, because the brand continues to grow in key markets such as China — the largest Jeep market outside the U.S.
"They're growing like crazy and I don't see any reason to think that they will not continue in that direction," he said. "Marchionne knew the global power and influence of the Jeep brand, which is why he wanted it so bad.
"He has leveraged that brand and image very effectively."
The Renegade, built in Italy, is a major example of Marchionne's global ambitions for Jeep. It is the only Jeep to ever be exclusively manufactured outside the U.S. and the brand's first subcompact vehicle.
More Jeep vehicles are expected to start being produced outside the U.S. in coming years to meet local demand.
Jeep, through a joint venture with Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., has already announced localized production of three Jeep models for China by late 2015.
Global Jeep sales
■ Grand Cherokee — 208,309,
■ Wrangler — 179,133, up 11%
■ Cherokee — 167,211
■ Compass — 101,077, up 8%
■ Patriot — 91,274, up 15%
■ Total — 747,004
2014 sales through September