Platform sharing is a very common, and very cost-effective, practice these days. Company executives, however, fret when someone names their vehicle a “rebadge”, “re-skin” or something akin to that no matter how many parts it may actually share with a sister brand’s model.
Jeep President and CEO Mike Manley is one of those execs, despite the fact that the Fiat-Chrysler tie-up is mostly about sharing platforms, parts and expertise and minimizing costs and they practice it even at the group's luxury cars.
Still, Manley shrugs off any suggestions that the small, B-segment crossover that will be built in a couple of years at Fiat’s Melfi plant will be a 500X in new clothes.
“I’m quite sensitive on that point because people tend to think that we just put a skin on a Fiat car”, Manley told WardsAuto. “Absolutely not what we’re doing: it’s a Jeep with Jeep DNA”. He does admit, “there’s technology-sharing” but is adamant that, no matter what, it will still be “a Jeep vehicle”.
To reinforce his points, he added that there will be a Trail Rated version, which should be enough for establishing its off-road capabilities.
Manley thinks of the new B-segment crossover not as a product targeted at those looking for an entry-level Jeep alone: “I think you’re going to see customers at different stages in their lives”, he told the publication. “Maybe they’re empty-nesters; maybe they want to downsize. Maybe they are traditional B- or C- hatchback or sedan buyer looking for a small compact vehicle that provides them with something different than their current car.”
In March, Jeep is going to reveal its new D-segment SUV at the New York Show. Despite being less than two months from the launch, Manley revealed that they are still deliberating on how it will be named.
“There are clearly only two options for the name of this vehicle: It’s either going to be Cherokee or it’s going to be Liberty. We are going to make that decision in the very near future”, he admitted. He added that “both of them are historical names, Cherokee more so than Liberty”, perhaps hinting at the final moniker.
Apparently, Jeep has a difficulty deciding on names lately; as Manley put it, “we’ll have the next debate the C-segment: Will it be Compass? Will it be Patriot?”. Either way, there’s going to be one of them as the company’s plan calls for one of the two current compact SUV nameplates to be discontinued.
By Andrew Tsaousis