The brand’s top executive said Jeep, aided by the fast start of the new Cherokee, probably would surpass 1 million sales worldwide this year or the next.
Mike Manley, the brand’s president said Jeep global sales reached a record 731,565 last year and shipments have more than tripled since 2009, so getting the maker of sport-utility vehicles to Chrysler’s 1 million target by 2015 would be faster than Manley originally had expected.
“If the new Cherokee is successful here and in international markets, we should be able to take a big chunk out of that remaining 300,000 we need for the million,” Manley said in an interview at the Detroit auto show. “It’s a stretch to say we would do it in ’14, but if not in ’14, we should certainly be on track in ’15.”
U.S. sales of the Cherokee are 15 to 20 % ahead of Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler’s expectations after two months on the market, he said. The Cherokee name is returning after last being used for a Jeep model in 2001. Manley said the new model’s styling, which was criticized by reviewers, hasn’t turned off consumers.
A full year of Cherokee sales along with a subcompact Jeep to be built in Italy and introduced in Europe later this year will push the brand past 1 million deliveries globally, Manley said. Sergio Marchionne, who is chief executive officer of both Chrysler and Fiat SpA and is combining the two, said last year that Jeep possibly would reach 1 million in 2014.
Fiat is expanding Jeep’s lineup with vehicles such as the still-to-be-named small model and adding production in Europe, Brazil and China, the world’s largest auto market, he said. Jeep’s global sales rose 4 % last year, the brand’s fourth straight annual gain. U.S. sales account for 67 % of the brand’s deliveries.