Jeep’s global boss has doubled down on bold sales projections in Australia, saying it’s a “no-brainer” the brand should be a top-10 seller Down Under.
In late 2019, Jeep global president Christian Meunier raised eyebrows — including, no doubt, those of FCA’s local boss Kevin Flynn — when he told journalists at the launch of the Gladiator ute the brand should sell 50,000 vehicles in Australia and New Zealand.
Such a mark would be a big jump on its best ever result of more than 30,400 sales in 2013, let alone the brand’s 5748 sales last year.
But despite Jeep’s local popularity waning considerably in recent years due to reliability issues, recalls, customer service complaints, poor crash ratings and negative social media campaigns, Meunier said he still has lofty ambitions.
“I’ve set the north star for (Flynn), so he knows what number is a good number in the future,” Meunier joked to select Australian media via video call.
“Jeep and Australia have so much affinity lifestyle-wise, it broke my heart when I joined Jeep to see the performance of Jeep in Australia.”
Early last year, the brand embarked on an overhaul of the brand’s local operations, mainly centring around after sales care.
Sales grew 4.1 per cent year-to-date in 2020, mainly on the back of the introduction of the Gladiator.
However December sales were up 81.1 per cent and Meunier said he expects sales to climb rapidly — particularly thanks to the upcoming Grand Cherokee.
“Top 10 for me is a no-brainer,” he said.
“But it has to be done in the right way, a sustainable way, taking care of the customer.
“I think the Grand Cherokee is going to be a home run, I have zero doubt. Because the product is going to be awesome for Australians.”
Meunier also said much was being done to ensure the product quality and reliability issues which plagued the current generation Grand Cherokee would be rectified.
“I promised a lot of other things, like testing the Grand Cherokee in Australia — and we’re doing it,” he said.
“We’re testing on your roads, towing capacity because we know it’s important in your market.
“We’re going to see how we behave, with your own fuel, with everything that comes with Australia and we’re going to tweak it, we’re going to make it better.”
Meunier reiterated the brand’s commitment to right hand drive despite its Australian struggles, citing the importance of the Japan and UK markets.
He also conceded the new Grand Cherokee wouldn’t be a silver bullet to Jeep’s local woes, but a combination of improved vehicles adapted for our conditions and better customer service would serve it well in the future.
“The brand is solid: Australians love Jeep,” he said.
“There were some issues that were fixed and we’re going to keep being really focussed on fixing the product and making it appropriate for your market.
“We need to treat the customers well, take care of them, they need to be heard and be listened to.
“I think if we do these things, the sky is the limit for Jeep in Australia. I sincerely believe it — it’s not bullshit.”