Jeep delays full redesign of Grand Cherokee

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

Chelsea — Jeep is delaying the full redesign of the Grand Cherokee by at least a year, according to Jeep CEO Mike Manley.

Manley, speaking to reporters Friday at an annual Fiat Chrysler Automobiles vehicle event for journalists at the company’s proving grounds, said the Grand Cherokee redesign now will come in late 2018 or 2019. It had been scheduled to roll out in late 2017.

“If you look at the acceptance of the Grand Cherokee in the marketplace today, it’s still incredibly strong,” he said. “And the level of refresh that we’re planning on for next year I think will continue that momentum forward. So as I look out, in terms of what we need to achieve with that vehicle ... our view was it would be better to time it later.”

A refresh of the Grand Cherokee is due next year, a year celebrating Jeep’s 75th anniversary, and when Jeep also debuts a new vehicle that will replace the Patriot and Compass small SUVs. Manley would not say what name that vehicle will receive, but hinted it could get one of the two names. Manley said a larger Grand Wagoneer SUV is due in 2018. He said no Jeep vehicles are being pulled forward.

Manley said FCA has not made a decision on whether it will build the next-generation Wrangler in Toledo.

“The discussions continue to move forward,” he said. “At the appropriate time when they’re finished, we’ll make an announcement.”

June sales for Jeep in the U.S. “absolutely” will post another increase, Manley said. “June, today, is looking really strong for Jeep,” he said.

Renegade is aiding Jeep sales, and by the end of the month, dealers will be stocked with the small SUVs, Manley said.

“The start of Renegade, I’ve been very pleased with,” he said. “I was pleased with the first, second, third month of sales.”

Year-to-date through May, Jeep sales globally are up 20 percent. If the pace continues, Jeep would finish the year with about 1.2 million sales, Manley said. That’s up from nearly 1.02 million sales in 2014.

Manley said Jeep is “on pace” to achieve its target of 1.9 million sales worldwide by 2018.

He said successful production of the Jeep in local markets globally such as China and Brazil is important to reach that target. Renegade production recently began in Brazil and Cherokee production is expected to start in the middle of the fourth quarter this year in China, followed by the Renegade in the first half of next year.