Jeep confirms pickup; new SUV to be Patriot or Compass

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Jeep is making moves to continue its global expansion and sales records in the coming years, with the introduction of a compact SUV this year and a long-awaited pickup likely in 2018.

Jeep’s global chief, Mike Manley, said Monday the brand expects to set a global sales record — its fifth consecutive — this year, as it continues to expand production of Jeeps in key international markets.

Helping bolster the brand’s momentum will be the introduction of an all-new compact SUV at the New York International Auto Show in March. The new compact SUV will replace both the current Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot models. Manley said the new vehicle will use one of the names of the outgoing models.

“We’ve got two very good names, two well-established names with Compass and Patriot that continue to perform very well,” he told The Detroit News on the sidelines of the 2016 North American International Auto Show during the first press preview day. “It will be one of those names — which one, we’re going to have to wait and see.”

Manley said outside the United States, Compass has better name recognition, while Patriot is better known in North America.

He also confirmed that Jeep will produce a pickup based off the next-generation Wrangler. The SUV is expected late-2017.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed Monday that the pickup will be produced in Toledo, alongside the next-generation Wrangler.

“Sergio and I work very, very closely on the Jeep product portfolio, and both of us have been a fan of a potential Wrangler pickup ...

“For me, there is a historical place in our lineup for it.”

In recent years, Jeep has played with the idea of a pickup through concept models. The most well-known are the Jeep J-12 produced for the annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari off-roading event in 2012, and the Jeep Gladiator based on the Jeep Wrangler platform that debuted at the 2005 Detroit auto show.

Additional details of the pickup and a restructured Fiat Chrysler five-year plan through 2018 are expected to be outlined later this month, during its 2016 earnings call.

Marchionne, earlier in the day, told reporters that the altered plan will lay out a “renewed commitment” to the company’s five-year plan that was originally outlined in 2014.

During the press conference, Marchionne also reaffirmed that he will stay at the top of the Chrysler Fiat house through at least 2018, but will not lead the company’s next plan.

Marchionne declined to comment on potential successors. Speculative candidates have included Manley; Reid Bigland, head of sales, fleet and Alfa Romeo in North America; Alfredo Altavilla, head of business development and COO for Europe; and Chief Technology Officer Harald Wester, also head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati.

Manley declined to directly comment on being Marchionne’s successor.

“My entire focus is to meet the commitments that I’ve made in terms of the organization in terms of the performance of Jeep and now Ram through 2018,” said Manley, who started leading Ram Trucks in October. “What happens beyond 2018, we’re going to see.”

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