Chrysler’s Jeep brand which is owned by Fiat, will enter the Indian market with the launch of the Cherokee model. This comes as no surprise as in January 2012, CarToq had reported about the possible launch of the Jeep brand in India.
Following the Cherokee, the Jeep brand may launch other models in its line up such as the Patriot, Commander and Compass. Once Jeep gains a strong foothold in India, it may also explore the possibilities of launching Chrysler and Dodge models.
Introduction of Jeep models such as Cherokee will allow Fiat to expand its product lineup in the country. At present Fiat India, sells only two models, the Grande Punto and the Linea. Earlier, a team of senior officials from Chrysler had visited India to conduct a feasibility study for the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
We can expect Chrysler’s Jeep models to be brought into India via the Completely Knocked Down (CKD) route, which attracts lower import duties. Fiat may use its Ranjangaon plant to assemble the Chrysler models. Local assembling of models will likely help Fiat price Jeep models competitively. Models of premium brands such as Alfa Romeo will most likely be brought into the country as Completely Built Units (CBUs), which attract 110% import duty.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Grand Cherokee has been in production since 1992. The latest Grand Cherokee is the fourth generation model and has been given as much as 30 awards for its safety, off-roading potential and luxury features.
Look: The Grand Cherokee has a typical 7-slat Jeep grille. The side profile shows a high waistline and large trapezoidal wheel arches with good clearance for off-road use. The rear of the Grand Cherokee again has a simple design with wrap-around tail-lamps that flow into the rear hatch and a thick chrome garnish with the word ‘Jeep’ embossed on it. The interiors of the Grand Cherokee are expected to be premium with soft to touch materials. The cabin features only two rows of seats for five people and may discourage buyers looking for a seven-seat SUV.
Engine & performance: We expect the India-bound Grand Cherokee to be powered by a 3-litre, V6 CRD diesel engine that puts out an impressive 237 bhp of power and 550 Nm of torque. The Grand Cherokee can accelerate from 0 to 100 kmph in 8.2 seconds and achieve a top speed of 203 kmph. The Grand Cherokee clearly has an advantage over the Toyota Fortuner and other SUVs in terms of power, acceleration and overall performance.
Off-road abilities: The Grand Cherokee employs a Quadra-Trac II 4×4 system that has ‘Selec-Terrain’ feature for off-roading duties. The Quadra-Trac II has sensors to detect tyre slip and supply torque accordingly. Its off-roading ability is further assisted by Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist. The uniqueness of Cherokee lies in its ‘Selec-Terrain’ system that allows the driver to choose from five driving conditions: Sand/Mud, Sport, Auto, Snow and Rock. The Cherokee also features the new Quadra-Lift air suspension system that offers five height settings (modes) depending on the driving conditions.
The Grand Cherokee is one of the safest premium SUVs for it is loaded with numerous safety features such as eight airbags, ABS, all-four disc brakes, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Enhanced Accident Response System, Traction Control and so on.
Expected Price: With the level of equipment, quality of interior upholstery and off-roading abilities, the Grand Cherokee may have a price tag of about Rs. 40 lakh. It isn’t a surprise for a brand like Chrysler/Jeep focusing on emerging markets like India where the demand for premium luxury vehicles is growing. It would be interesting to see, how Fiat will manage to sell the Jeep models here when it struggles to sell its own models such as Punto and Linea in significant numbers.