Jeep / AutoCar

Within three years, Jeep will have entries in three new markets to the brand, ten plug-in hybrids, level 3 autonomy and four full-electric vehicles, CEO Mike Manley has announced at parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) five-year plan investors’ day.

The plans account for two launches per year until 2022, including three-all new models which cover unexplored markets for the brand. A pick-up truck arrives in 2019, a sub-Renegade small urban SUV and long-mooted Grand Wagoneer flagship make up the new launches. A new three-row SUV will also be launched. “We will re-enter mid-size pick-up segment next year. We will extend our reach in E-SUV segment with an extra three-row variant. Finally we’ll enter large SUV segment when we bring back one of the most storied nameplates in our industry with the return of the Grand Wagoneer in 2020,” Manley said.

Electrification is high on the agenda for Jeep, which currently doesn’t sell a single hybrid-powered model in the UK; within the same timeframe the brand will introduce ten plug-in hybrids across its portfolio, and four full EVs. A hybrid option for each nameplate is planned for completion by the end of 2020. Manley said: “Compliance in two regions will drive increasing electrification going forward. What’s important is margin. For now, and the immediate future, electrification will be margin dilutive, but in the long-term it can add value beyond compliance. For our brand, electrification can enhance one brand value: the levels of greater torque control, enhances by electrification, can bring a higher level of off-road capability.”

The brand’s electrification plan also fits with Fiat Chrysler’s wider objective to drop diesel engines from its entire product lineup by 2022, including Jeep.

Level three autonomy, which allows part-time autonomy but still requires a driver behind the wheel and paying attention, will arrive by 2021, to “bring independence and stress-free utility,” as well as make Jeep’s cars more urban-friendly, said Manley. FCA is in talks with Google autonomous driving company Waymo to use its driverless systems under licence on FCA vehicles, but no confirmation has yet been made that production cars will feature the systems in the near future.

Jeep has also confirmed that two new specialist sub-brands will join its Trailhawk off-road badge and Trackhawk high-speed badge; Desert Hawk high-speed sand performance line, heading to multiple models including the Cherokee; and an as-yet-unnamed urban specialist line, with full connectivity, optimum efficiency and all-weather capability, growing the specialist sub-brand lines offered by Jeep to two on-road and two off-road. The urban-friendly line is likely to feature Jeep’s most cutting-edge driverless tech.

Following the example set by Volvo, Porsche and other brands, Jeep will also be part of a subscription service offered by FCA across all of its brands. Rather than being brand-specific, the subscription service will allow customers to swap between models of any FCA marque.

China is of particular importance to the brand, as proven by its plans to introduce eight new or refreshed models in the coming years, including two China-specific Jeeps. Four plug-in hybrids and four full-electric SUVs are also heading for the world’s largest car market. In Latin America, another three-row SUV is on its way.

The Jeep CEO outlined what the company expects from a booming SUV market: “We think the segments will be largely stable but we will see the emergence of a new segment as saloon buyers see benefits and move over. We think it will grow in all reasons and across all segments. Need to continue to refresh our product, but we also need to protect our margins and grow prices. We have one of the strongest UV brands in the works and we expect to strengthen it over this period.”

Manley also took the time in his speech to bash ‘fake utility vehicles’ – with the influx of high-riding small SUVs in the industry, claiming that Jeep will be protected by offering products which are more than high-riding cars posing as SUVs. “People look for genuine things – fake utility vehicless that are cars with lift become commodity players and people will them see as such. We have opportunity to position the Jeep brand uniquely in this segment, protecting margin. The growth in our brand over the last five years has been driven by authenticity, so it remains true to its heritage and true to its brand.”

The global SUV market is expected to grow by as much as 25% by 2022 to 40 million units.