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A New Baby For Jeep

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives Topics:  Jeep Renegade

A New Baby For Jeep

Geoff Maxted
DriveWrite
January 31, 2014


Jeep Renegade
The first heavily disguised prototype of Jeep's upcoming subcompact SUV was spotted undergoing road tests in Italy last week. The still unnamed model will be the brand's first vehicle built only outside of the United States. The "baby" Jeep will be produced at Fiat's plant in Melfi, central Italy, alongside Fiat brand's sibling model, the 500X.

The Jeep will debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March and will go on sale in Europe during the summer. The 500X will be unveiled at the Paris show in October and will go on sale in Europe by the end of the year. Fiat and Jeep plan annual production of up to 280,000 units of the two models. The planned annual volume for the Jeep is up to 150,000 units, while Fiat's version will account for 130,000 units, apparently.

The "baby" Jeep's success is key to helping the brand to reach its target of 1 million annual vehicle sales this year, up from a record 731,565 last year. Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said recently that the model will not be called Jeepster, (Thank goodness) as some reports have said, but he did not disclose the model's name although It could possibly be the Laredo. This is an iconic name for Jeep and was used for entry trim levels of Jeep models.

Mike Manley, head of the Jeep brand, said the subcompact SUV would lure customers in the United States and other markets away from saloons and hatchbacks He went on, "If we get the right ride and handling and we get the right fuel economy - and I'm convinced we will - not only will we be competitive in what is the emerging B-SUV segment, you're going to see hatchback and saloon buyers in B and C [segments] looking at that vehicle as a competitive alternative.”

Journalists who recently saw a pre-production version have said that, in addition to Jeep-like exterior styling, the model has an interior with a high quality fit and finish more common in premium vehicles. The Jeep is 4250mm long (167 inches) and will be sold only with four-wheel drive, including an off-road version and will offer a range of petrol and diesel engines.

The Fiat 500X will be the same size and will have the same powertrain options as the baby Jeep. In addition to 4WD, it will have a cheaper, more fuel efficient front-wheel-drive only variant. Fiat will release the first pictures of the 500X on July 4, the 57th anniversary of the original 500 launch. The new Fiat will replace the company’s slow-selling Sedici, which Suzuki builds for Fiat at its plant in Hungary.



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