Jeep sets fourth-consecutive year of record sales

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Jeep has trekked its way to a fourth-consecutive year of record global sales in 2015.

Mike Manley, global head of the SUV brand, told The Detroit News on Wednesday that Jeep has already surpassed its global sales record of more than 1 million vehicles sold that was set in 2014.

“We’re very pleased with that,” he said during a phone interview. “We will be significantly ahead of last year’s record, and set a new global record this year.”

Jeep had sold 1,013,780 vehicles globally through October, with sales from the first week of November pushing the brand past the 1,017,019 sold in 2014. Manley said Jeep sales heading into November were up 22 percent globally, and 24 percent in the U.S.

Leading Jeep’s global sales through October was the Cherokee (238,288), followed by the Grand Cherokee (225,013); Wrangler (217,603); Patriot (121,309); Renegade (118,644); and Compass (92,920). It also sold three discontinued Liberty models.

Jeep’s substantial growth has been spurred by an increasing demand for SUVs in North America, the global roll-out of the Jeep Renegade and local production starting in Brazil and China.

“This year was not only about focusing on the new model that we had, Renegade, but it also was about that expansion in our manufacturing footprint,” he said. “It’s been a big year outside of the fact that we’ll break another world record, just from those developments alone.”

Jeep started the “transformational” year by starting localized production of the small Renegade SUV at a new multibillion dollar plant in Goiana, located in the state of Pernambuco in northeast Brazil. Localized production of the Cherokee started in China last month with Guangzhou Automobile Group, its Chinese joint-venture partner. Production of the Renegade is slated to start in the first half of next year.

Brazil and China are important parts of Jeep’s global expansion through 2018. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, its parent company, plans to produce 1.9 million Jeeps by 2018 at 10 plants in six countries: the U.S., Italy, China, Brazil, India and one other yet-to-be-announced country. Two years ago, only 798,000 rolled out of four plants in the United States.

Production of the subcompact Renegade in Italy started in late 2014 for Europe and earlier this year for the U.S., where the brand has sold about 45,000 of the small SUVs this year.

The record sales come as the brand prepares for its 75th anniversary in 2016, which should help Jeep drive toward continuing its sales growth.

Manley said “every model will play a role” in the milestone: “From a product point of view, we’ve got lots of news coming next year with everything we’ve got planned.”

The Grand Cherokee and Cherokee are expected to receive updates next year, and the brand also is scheduled to debut an all-new vehicle that will replace the Patriot and Compass compact SUVs.

Despite delaying a full redesign of the Grand Cherokee by at least a year into late 2018 or 2019, Manley said the brand’s product plans remains on track.

“Our product plans are very much intact and very much on track,” he said. “I’m pleased with where we are, and looking forward to next year.”

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Detroit News staff writer Henry Payne contributed.