Given the Indian market’s huge appetite for SUVs of all sizes and types, Jeep India is about to make its biggest progress in India with the launch of two brand new models and much more. We give you a detailed insight into what you can expect during what will surely be an action-packed 2022.
The Jeep brand has had an enormous recall value in the Indian market, and it has been so ever since World War II. And I would know that personally, because my grandfather was the proud owner of one of the forerunners of modern jeeps, Willy’s. As a result, I grew up hearing the story of his accomplishments with the Jeep during his heyday, with many random spare parts of said vehicle lying around in my ancestor’s house, even though Willy’s himself was long gone.
Build a fan base
Ever since its entry a few years ago, Jeep in India has built up a fairly loyal fan base, with Compass appealing to a fairly wide audience. But there has always been a feeling that despite its initial success, there is much more than Jeep can achieve in India. And the basic fact behind that view is that India has never been a market where a brand can succeed by having a single model, it is a market that reacts positively to manufacturers offering large product ranges, and Jeep India has so far not done the.
Made in India
Of course, the second aspect of success in India, as Jeep Global CEO Christian Meunier himself said, is to manufacture vehicles in India itself, because it makes them much cheaper. To achieve this, the brand has invested close to 2,000 crores over the past year, and the first product to roll out of it will be the Trailhawk version of the facelift Compass, which is expected to be launched in a few weeks.
But the bigger news is the Meridian, which is essentially a larger 3-row version of the compass. Based on the Commander – which by the way is the best-selling 3-row SUV in Brazil and sells much better than the Toyota Fortuner there – this is an SUV that Indian customers have been waiting for and which could prove to be a great success. One of the main reasons for working for Meridian is the fact that with road trips that have become a rage due to the pandemic, interest in 3-row SUVs is at a record level, and customers cannot buy enough of them in India.
So, as a customer, what can you expect from Meridian? Well, more space and practicality, of course, but like all other Jeep products, it will retain unique features, such as off-road capability, rugged design and typical Jeep character. Although no further details have been revealed, what we do know is that the Meridian will only be diesel-powered – I personally think the 1.4 turbo petrol in the Compass may be too small for the Meridian – and there will be three options for the powertrain at launch, with two trim offered. From the beginning, Meridian has over 80% localization, and if it is well priced, it has great sales potential. Another promising claim from the brand is that the Meridian will have the best acceleration in its class, and for more off-road capability and attractiveness, it will come with independent suspension front and rear. The independent rear suspension should really give the Meridian a boost compared to most of its rivals in terms of ride comfort and handling.
So when should you expect the Meridian to reach the market? Well, expect the new SUV to be unveiled in March, with media test drives in April and production starting in May, indicating a likely launch in June 2022, provided we do not end up in a new pandemic wave.
India-spec 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The distance stopper
The second major ticket launch for 2022 for Jeep will be its flagship Grand Cherokee. The new Cherokee, recently released for some phenomenal reviews and success in the US, looks really good – both inside and out – and can be a very worthy rival to German SUVs, while offering genuine off-road capability, something only a few SUVs have . that segment can claim to offer. Of course, the Cherokee will also be mounted in India and, like the Wrangler, will be petrol-powered – a 2.0-liter turbo engine combined with an 8-speed automatic does the job. To maintain its terrain clutches, the Cherokee will be equipped with a Quadra-Trac I 4×4 system and Selec-Terrain traction management system, which offers a combination of excellent off-road capability and off-road driving characteristics. The highlight of the new Cherokee, however, may be the new interior, which looks very promising in photos, and critics have been nagging about their design and quality.
Sub-4 meter dreams
One of the most important discussion points in our interaction with Christian, Jeep Global CEO, Roland Bouchara, CEO of Stellantis India, and Nipun Mahajan, Brand Head, Jeep India, was about the notorious sub-4 meter SUV that Jeep has worked with for India. And while refusing to comment on when we could expect such a product in India, they mentioned that they had studied the segment with great interest and have looked at the potential of such a product for India. But both Christian and Nipun clearly mentioned that Jeep does not enter the space under 4 meters until they can make a real Jeep of that size at an affordable cost. This means that not only is the all-around capacity maintained but also the unique Jeep features of design and functionality. Something tells me that it may take a while before we see a smaller Jeep in India, but given the size of the segment, Jeep is definitely working on making this a future opportunity.
2022 Jeep Compass Trailhawk
Of course, for hardcore off-road enthusiasts, there was good news with the launch of the Trailhawk eminent. The track-rated version of the Compass will offer many first-class features, such as the standard Jeep Active Drive Low 4×4 20: 1 crawl ratio, factory-fitted lifting suspension, four metallic sliding plates and a signature red rear towbar. Its off-road capabilities will benefit from a 30-degree approach angle, 24-degree angle of refraction and 34-degree departure angle, along with the option of up to 19-inch water lining.
Focus on India
In a nutshell, our conversation revolved mainly around how Jeep sees India as a priority market, which is evident from the fact that once this year’s launches are complete, Jeep’s range will have four models – Compass, Meridian, Wrangler and Grand Cherokee – that will become the largest Jeep series in any country worldwide, except the United States. More importantly, all four vehicles will either be manufactured or assembled in India. And India is the only market other than the United States, where the Grand Cherokee is locally assembled. Jeep officials talked a lot about their success in the Brazilian market and how they would like to replicate it in India, and if their current plans are implemented well, with a wide range, capable products and a blue-chip brand, 2022 may very well be Jeeps years in India.
Jeep will launch two new SUVs in 2022: the Compass Trailhawk and the Meridian
2021 Jeep Compass Long Term Reports