We've been writing about the Scrambler (long-wheelbase Wrangler) and the Compass (small entry-level SUV) being added to the Jeep brand for quite some time now. Autoweek.com just ran a story that provides a good summary from a marketing point of view. Here's a snippet:
Jeep's future is a critical issue facing Joe Eberhardt, the Chrysler group's new sales chief.
The brand has long stood for authentic off-road vehicles. But the market is demanding so-called soft-roaders - sport wagons with more carlike ride and handling.
If Jeep stays true to its roots, it may miss a chance for growth. But a more carlike Jeep could undermine the brand's heritage and turn off buyers.
"I think there is room for something in Jeep," Eberhardt says. "I am not sure yet what that something is. But I think the brand has the potential of being extended.
"You can't shift the whole brand. You still need core products, halo products that can go up and down the Rubicon Trail. But as long as there are a couple of halo products, maybe (brand extension) would work."
Through June, Jeep sales in the United States fell 3.7 percent, compared with the entire market's 2.5 percent drop.
Many Jeep owners consider themselves off-road enthusiasts even if they do not take their vehicles off-road, Eberhardt says.
"I'd say 90 percent of the people who have a Jeep product have never taken it off road," he says.
But that doesn't mean those owners will accept a less traditional Jeep, Eberhardt says.
"The question is: If we do a different Jeep product tomorrow, would the people who buy Wranglers today then say, 'I don't want my Wrangler anymore'?" he says.
Be sure to check out the entire article.