AM Online

Jeep seeks return to No2 SUV choice

In the past three years the Chrysler Jeep and Dodge business has been stripped down from 21 different model lines to just a half-a-dozen.

It has also come under the control of Fiat at Slough, with brand director Nigel Land reporting in to Fiat Group Auto UK MD Andrew Humberstone.

The Dodge brand has been axed, and focus is now on restoring Jeep to glory while Chrysler desperately awaits some fresh products. Leading the charge is the all-new Grand Cherokee – already being hailed as the most premium Jeep so far.

Land told AM Jeep has lost ground in the SUV race as German brands have brought their own 4x4s to market. Ultimately he wants it to regain the runner-up spot behind Land Rover. Currently it’s just among the top five.

That aim, combined with new model launches this year, is leading to a £6 million marketing push which is putting new Compass on TV and Grand Cherokee is hitting national press and lifestyle magazines.

And next year Jeep will invest in suitable sponsorship opportunities.

“The strength of the Jeep brand is its heritage and its products, but we have to reinforce that with the way we sell them.

"Its positioning is pretty much where it should be, but we need to restore its profile as a vehicle for active lifestyles.

“Grand Cherokee raises that profile and takes Jeep into the luxury SUV market. It enables us to compete with credibility against its key European rivals.

"Our dealers see Grand Cherokee as the start of the resurgence of the brand.”

Land said the Chrysler name had “a legacy” from the 2009 corporate bankruptcy in the USA, which meant considerable work was necessary to restore its consumer awareness.

TV and other marketing activity is planned as its new models, the rebranded Lancia Delta and Ypsilon, arrive towards the end of 2011, followed by a new 300C saloon in spring 2012 and a D-segment model in 2013.

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