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Jeep Grand Wagoneer’s Aus future uncertain

Grand ideas: The Grand Wagoneer is set to make a comeback as a flagship seven-seat SUV, but its Australian future remains unclear.

Decision on business case for right-hand drive Jeep Grand Wagoneer is weeks away

18 Nov 2016


A DECISION on whether to engineer the upcoming Jeep Grand Wagoneer seven-seat SUV in right-hand-drive guise will be made within the next three months, after the company has considered input from all relevant regions, including Australia.

Speaking to Australian journalists at this week’s Los Angeles motor show, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) global head of Jeep and Ram brands Mike Manley said that the business case for the five-metre long-plus SUV flagship, due by the end of this decade, had yet to be finalised despite strong support for such a vehicle from many quarters within the company.

“That’s one that possibly won’t make right-hand drive,” he said. “The project hasn’t been ruled out yet. We have requests from all of our right-hand-drive markets for it. And we have time as well, because that’s scheduled for the end of 2019.

“So that one is right on the table today… and (FCA Australia president and CEO Steve Zanlunghi) gets his input in the coming two to three months, so we can make the decision.”

Mr Manley hinted that the long-term benefits of having a viable contender in the full-sized three-row luxury SUV field against competitors such as the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLS and upcoming BMW X7 might be worth taking a gamble on.

“To me, it could become another halo for the brand, and then sometimes the financial outcomes don’t matter as much as that halo,” he said. “But for the moment, that’s one where the decision has a question mark.”

9 center imageLeft: FCA global head of Jeep and Ram brands Mike Manley.However, Mr Manley stopped short of outlining any further details about the project, including what platform might underpin the Grand Wagoneer.

Leaked images from a United States dealer meeting last month regarding future Jeep products indicated that the newcomer will be considerably longer and wider than today’s Grand Cherokee, prompting speculation that Jeep might be developing a stretched version of the Maserati Levante SUV architecture (itself based on the Quattroporte and Ghibli sedan components) as a starting point, justifying the mooted $150,000-plus positioning.

Other reports have suggested that the existing Grand Cherokee’s Mercedes-Benz W166 ML-Class/GLE-derived technology may have another outing.

The Wagoneer nameplate is not new, serving on what is now considered the world’s first luxury 4x4 in the popular SJ range introduced by the long-defunct Kaiser company back in 1963 (Jeep did not fall into Chrysler’s hands until 1987), pre-dating the original Range Rover by seven years, and remaining in production for 28 years.

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