The new name of the market game is most definitely the compact SUV – we updated readers last week on developments of all the mini-SUV and crossover projects in play at the moment, and looked in depth at the compact Land Rover, or “baby-Rangie” that the company is said to be working on.
The newest update in this segment comes from Chrysler, with Edmunds reporting on a compact SUV project underway for Jeep. In fact, the Italian-built on/off-roader is set for global release as early as next year. This confirms our suspicions (raised last week) that the Fiat 500x platform could give rise to a small Jeep, but with all manufacturers zoning in on this segment, competition is going to be tough. Said to be roughly the same size as the new Ford Fiesta, the baby Jeep would be slightly narrower, but roughly the same size as the Nissan Juke – its most likely competitor. That’s smaller than the Range Rover Evoque and new Toyota RAV4, vehicles doing very well in the local and global markets at the moment.
That said, manufacturers aren’t betting on the likes of mid-sized SUVs, but rather the future popularity of small SUVs and crossovers, such as Volkswagen’s proposed Taigun, the small Land Rover mentioned, Ford’s EcoSport, the Fiat 500x and Mazda CX-3.
According to Jeep CEO Mike Manley, the target market is, essentially, Europe. Their secondary market seems to be the growing automotive gem that is China, with the US taking back stage. This is the second vehicle from Chrysler to benefit from their association with Fiat, with the 2014 Cherokee built on the Alfa Rome Giulietta platform. Both petrol and diesel engines will be utilised, although there are no specific details as of yet (aside from the fact that the US unsurprisingly won’t receive the diesel mill).
According to Richard Sloman, media liaison manager at Chrysler South Africa, the company is investigating the feasibility of bringing the baby-Jeep to SA markets and have no official decision yet, but say that “it would be a great addition to our Jeep range”.
Read a Forbes interview with Mike Manley here, wherein he discusses the company’s new focus, relationship with Fiat and the future of hybrid vehicles’ impact on Jeep.