American Jeep to launch SUV worth Rs 10 lakh off roader inIndia

Los Angeles,Nov18: Iconic American SUV brand Jeep is planning a sub Rs 10-lakh global off-roader for India to take on the likes of Ford Eco Sport and Renault Duster. It is also looking at a partnership with Tata Motors for engines, transmissions and possibly new products.

Mike Manley, head of the Jeep brand, which is part of the Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) stable, said India is one of the “most critical” markets for the company as it looks at a greater and stronger push into emerging countries, including Brazil and China.

The mini SUV, which is still in the drawing stage, will be the smallest in the company’s line-up and India could be a global manufacturing hub for right-hand drive markets. The country is expected to take a lead as Jeep is targeting a sub four-metre version, which attracts lower excise tax and thus can be priced more aggressively.

Manley said at the Los Angeles Motor Show that the vehicle will be positioned “on top of the Eco Sport” and will be “very close” to the Ford vehicle.

Jeep has been making a strong comeback in the global market and sold 1.2 million off-roaders last year. Now India is big on its radar.

Manley said that a partnership with Tata Motors could be explored, but did not answer queries on whether he was eyeing a tie-up with the Indian company’s British SUV brand Land Rover.

He said he is open to “discussions” on exploring “opportunities” with Tata Motors beyond the Ranjangaon joint venture (signed by its parent Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles) that produces vehicles for both the companies. “Our relationship with Tata Motors is good… I would be very open to discussions with Tata about opportunities where collectively we could win,” Manley told TOI when asked about possible joint product-development and vehicle platform strategies.
“Engines for sure, transmission for sure, various components for platforms for sure… They (Tata) have a significant industrial footprint. If there are other opportunities, I will certainly look at that.”

He said that the two companies “always talk to each other very regularly” and these discussions are “on a range of issues.”Jeep will be launching a new SUV Compass in a few months and this will be the first vehicle manufactured from its factory at Ranjangaon. While Compass is likely to be positioned at Rs 15-20 lakh, Manley said the company may launch a locally-built Renegade off-roader below Compass.

The company had made a debut in India earlier this year with Wrangler and Grand Cherokee off-roaders. But they are priced very high (coming in as fully-built imports), keeping them out of reach for large part of the market. While Wrangler has been priced at Rs 71.6 lakh and carries a 2.8-litre diesel engine, Grand Cherokee is available in two engine options – 6.4-litre petrol and 3-litre diesel – priced between Rs 93.6 lakh and Rs 1.12 crore ( ex-showroom Delhi).

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