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Jeep Compass plots global course

Bearing race: Careful consideration of different worldwide regional demands has resulted in a more universally appealing Compass, says its maker.

Testing on six continents, production in four countries takes Jeep Compass global

Jeep logo3 Mar 2017

By DANIEL GARDNER

JEEP is persevering with its strategy to become a more global brand with testing of its new Compass small SUV carried out on more continents and production chalked for more countries than any model before it.

The plan to offer its range of SUVs in more markets around the world was initiated by the Cherokee mid-sizer and followed by the Renegade baby of the line-up, but the latest addition to the Jeep stable underwent development on six continents and will be produced in four different countries, making it the most global model to date, it says.

Speaking at the world first drive of the 2017 Compass in Texas, Jeep Compass chief engineer Audrey Moore told GoAuto that considering a wider spread of regional demands was one of the greatest challenges for the engineering team.

“For this vehicle there were really two things,” she said. “The first one was the fact that this was the first truly global Jeep that we’ve designed – built in four different countries around the world, making sure that we had a Jeep that satisfied the customers around the world.

“Trying to incorporate into the vehicle all of the things that every customer needs was the first time for Jeep really. It was unique and it was different and there were some moments when it was a little challenging for us to make the right trade-offs for every region.” Ms Moore explained that the iconic car-maker started its bid to appeal to more nations with the Cherokee before turning its focus to the Renegade, but the Compass takes that strategy to a new level of worldwide versatility.

“When we took our evolution of the Jeep product we started with the Cherokee and we started shipping that to 135 different countries. When we brought in the Renegade it was truly starting to become more global because it was built in other regions to be shipped into more countries.

“When it came to the Compass though this is truly the first time where we tested it in six continents around the world.” To develop the new Compass for a broader audience, the Jeep engineering team closely examined the needs of more global markets and considered a greater number of parameters when developing the second-generation car.

Ms Moore said a massive amount of data was required to ensure the new Compass would appeal to the widest range of potential Jeep customers around the world with everything from climate, styling, consumer habits and vehicle applications taken into consideration.

“We talked to every region and their customers and we put all of that detail together in much more detail than we ever have. Each customer base has a different perspective, a different use case, they like things a little bit differently.” As is typical for any vehicle destined for a diverse number of global regions, the Compass was tested in all environments from arid and dusty, through wet and humid, to sub-zero icy climes and Ms Moore explained that the model almost made it on to red dirt as part of the development.

“We didn’t quite make it to Australia but we did go to New Zealand,” she said. New Zealand provided the Jeep’s trial in cold icy conditions near Queenstown on the South Island.

When they start to roll out on Australian roads late thins year, local versions of the Compass will be supplied by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) factory in India, but Ms Moore explained that there would be no differences in quality or materials compared with versions built at the Mexican, Brazilian or Chinese sites.

Together with fellow Compass engineer Jim Lyijynen, Ms Moore has been intensively involved with monitoring the quality of each facility prior to the various lines starting up and during the early stages of production.

“The great thing with us is that Jim and myself have the global lead,” she said. “We meet, personally, every one of the regions and we use the same tracking measures between every region to make sure the output is the same.” As the last of the four factories to start production of the Compass, Ms Moore said the Indian factory was expected to be the most efficient, with all the lessons learned from the other three earlier sites ploughed into the manufacturing regimes in India.

“India being the fourth plant has all the lessons learned from everywhere else incorporated there as well as the same people who have seen any other issues and can make a comparison from all the other regions. So actually they have a little bit of a leg up.

“The same level of requirement for interior performance, fits, finish, those same measures are applied for every region.” Ms Moore has been working with Jeep for a majority of her career and, before the Compass project, led the development of the Renegade compact SUV.

Before rising to the position of one of Jeep’s highest ranking engineers Ms Moore built extensive experience in the areas of wheels, tyres, suspension and steering engineering and humbly describes herself as a “chassis rat” in previous roles.

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