Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealers fear that the company may be too late in launching the long-awaited Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne first made reference to the three-row luxury SUV more than seven years ago, but the vehicle has yet to materialize. Despite recently being confirmed to launch early next decade, that could indeed prove to be a little too late.
Speaking to Automotive News, an FCA dealer said that higher interest rates and gas prices will make the Grand Wagoneer harder to sell than a few years ago.
“I think our window of opportunity is closing. We could have killed with [the Grand Wagoneer] if it had been available when they first told us about it, but it’s a much tougher sell with interest rates and gas prices going up.”
The automaker has since changed tune and wants the vehicle to instead compete with three-row SUVs from Ford and General Motors, including the Lincoln Navigator and GMC Yukon Denali.
According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch research analyst John Murphy, U.S. vehicles sales may slow significantly over the next five years. He says that factors including higher fuel prices, lower used-car values, higher interest rates and jacked-up raw material costs will make it harder for dealers to sell expensive vehicles.
Despite this, not everyone is too concerned about the delay: “The Grand Wagoneer will still sell because it’s a Jeep”, another FCA dealer told Automotive News. He conceded, though, that “it would have been nice to have them already”.