- Jeep plans to offer a subcompact sport-utility vehicle in the U.S. in 2014.
- The baby Jeep will be about the same size as the 2013 Ford Fiesta.
- The new subcompact Jeep will be assembled in Italy and will use a Fiat platform.
CHELSEA, Michigan — Jeep plans to offer a subcompact sport-utility vehicle in the U.S. in 2014 that is about the same size as the 2013 Ford Fiesta.
Jeep CEO Mike Manley told Edmunds that the unnamed Jeep will be assembled in Italy and marketed globally beginning in 2014.
"The weight of that market today is outside North America, predominately Europe," said Manley. "It is growing in China. I think when we launch our SUV here, you are going to see quite significant growth in that segment in the U.S."
Manley was interviewed during a preview of the Chrysler Group's 2014 model line.
Most global automakers either are selling or are in the process of developing subcompact SUVs and crossovers and even smaller utility models. Automakers are betting that these SUVs and crossovers will be popular this decade, particularly as owners shop for models that are more fuel efficient.
General Motors, for example, offers the subcompact 2014 Buick Encore, which is assembled in Korea and shares a vehicle platform with the Chevrolet Sonic. The Encore went on sale earlier this year. Cadillac has a similar-sized model on the drawing board. Small Mercedes-Benz and Audi crossover models are nearing production.
Ford is considering the Fiesta-based EcoSport for the U.S. market. That vehicle is considerably smaller than the Escape, the smallest crossover that Ford sells in the U.S. The EcoSport is assembled in Brazil and sold in several regions of the world.
The unnamed Jeep SUV will be developed on a front-drive Fiat vehicle platform, the second Jeep model to share its underpinnings with Chrysler's Italian parent.
The larger 2014 Cherokee, which replaces the Jeep Liberty, is the first such model and it was developed on a separate platform that shares some common components with the Dodge Dart and the Alfa Romeo Giulia. The 2014 Cherokee, which goes on sale in August, is more than 2 feet longer than the baby Jeep that arrives next year.
In terms of size, Manley said the unnamed Jeep model "is 4.2 meters (165 inches) long. The Cherokee is 4.6 (181 inches)." Ford's Fiesta hatchback is 160.1 inches in length.
Manley expects hatchback and sedan customers to cross-shop the new small Jeep.
"From a ride and fuel economy perspective, it will be competitive," Manley said. Plus, it will provide "the utility that you will get in an SUV in terms of cabin space and everything else."
Models sold in Europe will be offered with a diesel engine, he said. However, there are no diesel plans for the U.S.
Edmunds says: How small can Jeep go before owners push back?