Toledo Jeep Assembly Plantís latest entrant into the sport-utility vehicle sales race is expected to make its public debut in January in Detroit at the countryís most important auto show, a few months before hitting dealership lots nationwide, industry sources confirmed yesterday.
DaimlerChrysler AGís U.S. side likely will unveil the still-unnamed Jeep during media previews for the North American International Auto Show. It is to open to the public from Jan. 13 to 21 at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit. The show, sponsored by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, is one of the top five in the world and draws about 6,000 journalists and 800,000 attendees.
Automaker spokesman Heather May said DaimlerChrysler doesnít reveal where or when it plans to introduce new vehicles.
Prototypes of the new Jeep, code-named KJ, are being made in a new $600-million Toledo Jeep factory off Stickney Avenue. Sellable KJs will be made next spring, joining Toledo-made Cherokees and Wranglers and Detroit-made Grand Cherokees under the Jeep umbrella on dealership lots next summer.
So far, the only image customers have of the KJ, which eventually will replace the aging Jeep Cherokee, are of rounded but camouflaged lines captured by so-called spy photographers. Some die-hard Cherokee fans have criticized the KJís looks and other rumored attributes, but DaimlerChrysler maintains people shouldnít pass judgement until its unveiling.
The KJ will be a fresh addition to Jeepís display at the Detroit auto show as more compact SUVs, including the recently released Ford Escape, enter the market and clamor for attention.