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“The most important thing for us at Jeep is to prove our ability,” he said as he climbed a rocky hill on a proving ground for Stellantis, Jeep’s parent company. “That’s what took us a little longer than everyone else. It had to be a real Jeep first. “
The vehicle Morrison, Jeep’s vice president of North American operations, drives is the 2021 Grand Cherokee L. It’s a new model for the brand that is expected to hit showrooms next week as as Jeep’s first three-row vehicle in over a decade.
By upgrading the Grand Cherokee from a two-row to three-row SUV, Jeep is looking to attract new buyers and retain existing owners who previously had to leave the brand if they wanted a bigger vehicle. This is a key area of growth for the brand amid an influx of new competitors such as the well-received Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade SUVs.
“This is really going to help us develop the high end of the business, which is good for attracting new customers,” Morrison said, adding that the Grand Cherokee already had a customer retention rate of almost 50. %. the company. ”
The addition of the Grand Cherokee L will push the average price and profits of the SUV even higher, according to Matt Degen, an editor at the auto data and analytics company.
“They needed this vehicle,” he said. “Making the Grand Cherokee a three-row SUV is really a no-brainer for the brand. “
Michael Wayland / CNBC
The average price a consumer paid for a Grand Cherokee last month was $ 45,694, according to Cox. That’s already about $ 2,600 more than the average midsize SUV.
1 million sales?
Degen believes Jeep’s domestic sales could exceed one million for the foreseeable future with the additions of the Grand Cherokee L as well as the larger Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs expected to go on sale later this year.
Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler, dramatically increases Jeep production in the United States. The automaker spent $ 1.6 billion to convert an old engine complex into a full assembly plant for the 2021 Grand Cherokee. It was the city’s first new assembly plant in 30 years.
Michael Wayland | CNBC
“Jeep is one of those crown jewels among automotive brands,” Degen said. “The Jeep brand itself is really, really important to Stellantis as a whole, especially for sales in the United States. “
By the end of this year, Jeep is expected to expand its lineup from six vehicles to nine, including the Grand Cherokee L and Wagoneer vehicles. This excludes new plug-in hybrid models such as the current Wrangler 4xe and the future Grand Cherokee.
Grand Cherokee L
The interior of the Grand Cherokee L features 8.4-inch or 10.1-inch touchscreens as well as a 10.25-inch frameless digital information display behind the steering wheel. It is available in six and seven seater configurations.
The company also plans to offer hands-free in-vehicle driving technology in late 2021 on 2022 model year vehicles.