A long-time reader of mike's totally free jeep news sent us a link to an article on WardsAuto.com regarding the next few years of Jeep development. The article seems to point at both the Compass and Willys2 concept vehicles (or some varient thereof) going into production during the 2004-2007 model year timeframe. The article also mentions expanding the Jeep linuep on the high-end as well. Here's a snippet:
DaimlerChrysler Corp. has aggressive expansion plans for the Jeep brand for the ’04-’07 model years, including two entry-level products and a high-end Grand Cherokee variant, with thfirst of the affordable Jeeps expected to debut next year.
DaimlerChrysler Corp. has aggressive expansion plans for the Jeep brand for the ’04-’07 model years, including two entry-level products and a high-end Grand Cherokee variant, with the first of the affordable Jeeps expected to debut next year.
The strategy is to grow the brand among young buyers who seek Jeep status for safety and security -- as well as those whose lifestyles take them off-road.
“One entry level is not enough,” says Richard O. Schaum, Chrysler Group head of product development, quality and passenger car operations. “I’m convinced you need two.”
The Chrysler Group showed some of its intent at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January with the Jeep Compass and Willys2 (successor to Willys shown in 2001) concepts.
Easiest to put into production is the Compass as an entry-level Liberty off the compact SUV platform. The Liberty is assembled in the new Toledo, OH, plant, a facility designed to accommodate a second product. Like Liberty, a production version of the 2-door Compass would be more on-road oriented, equipped to offer a car-like ride with 4X4 capability but not necessarily Rubicon toughness.
Compass has the same appointments as Liberty, but addresses affordability. “That is basically a 2-door Liberty, so we’re paying less for two doors and its significantly lower greenhouse,” says Trevor Creed, senior vice president-design. “So we don’t have as much glass and sheet metal and weight as a Liberty.” Creed says the Willys2 concept also is entry level, “but at the different end of the spectrum” in its minimalist design.
Willys2 did not come off the Wrangler platform, but heralds “a new and unique architecture,” says Creed. “The Wrangler platform is so old and so outdated it doesn’t meet any of the upcoming requirements for FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) for front and rear impact, so there would be no point in going to all that trouble,” explains Creed.
But the next-generation Wrangler could come off the Willys2 platform, Creed says, without confirming it will.
“Willys2 has features that could be incorporated into a Wrangler derivative, says Jim Schroer, executive vice president-global sales and marketing.
All three executives are careful not to show Jeep’s full hand. “We are only just beginning to conceive the next-generation Wrangler. Whatever we do with that Wrangler, it has to be as capable as the current Wrangler, which the Willys certainly does not have to be,” Creed cautions.
The article says that either the Compass or the Willys2 can be a $14,000 vehicle, in hopes of getting buyers hooked on the Jeep brand early. Be sure to read the entire article, as it contains further information on the future of the Wrangler as well as some other interesting details.