Since 2014, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne proclaimed that Jeep needed a three-row luxury SUV to better compete with the likes of the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. But this SUV, known as the Grand Wagoneer hasn't materialized. Numerous delays and debates about the design has caused the launch to be pushed time and time again. These delays have a number of dealers concerned that Jeep may miss its opportunity with this new model.
"I think our window of opportunity is closing. We could have killed with [the Grand Wagoneer] if it had been available when they first told us about it, but it's a much tougher sell with interest rates and gas prices going up," said an unnamed FCA dealer to Automotive News.
John Murphy, research analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said last week at a meeting of the Automotive Press Association that the "Goldilocks" era in auto retailing was coming to a close. Murphy said the next five years would be tough on auto sales due to a number of factors, especially for those trying to sell high-end models.
- Higher interest rates
- Increasing gas prices
- Raw materials becoming more expensive
- Increasing competition in the light-truck sector
The current plan is to launch the Grand Wagoneer in 2019, but production could be pushed back till late in the year or even into 2020. This is due to FCA's plan to keep building the current Ram 1500 at their Warren Truck Plant until the end of year. But depending on demand, this could extend production into 2019, pushing back the time needed to retool the plant for the Grand Wagoneer.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)