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Jeep eyeing top 10 position in Australia

Jeep Australia’s best performing model is the Grand Cherokee large SUV, which last year found 2986 new homes.

Jeep Australia’s new boss, Kevin Flynn, is confident the SUV brand can reverse its sales misfortunes and become a top 10 player within the next four years.

Speaking to CarsGuide, Mr Flynn said he envisions Jeep increasing its sales by a factor of eight, from last year’s 5519 units to around 45,000, to trouble the likes of Subaru and Honda, who finished 2019 with 40,007 and 43,868 respectively.

“With the product portfolio that will come in the future, and us fixing our right place and repairing the gap, there’s this wonderful opportunity for us,” he said.

“It’s not overnight, it’s a build, and if we get there then we must be incredibly respectful of the customers and previous owners that have trusted us again.”

Mr Flynn referenced global Jeep boss Christian Meunier, who was in New Zealand for the market launch of the Gladiator pick-up late last year, citing a circa-50,000-unit target.

If Jeep achieves its goals, based on last year’s figures, the SUV brand would have placed eighth overall in the Australian market, just behind Nissan (50,575) but ahead of Volkswagen (49,928).

The target would also be a record for Jeep Australia, which managed to hit a peak in 2014 of 30,408 due to varying market conditions such as the strong Australian dollar that brought pricing for its SUV line-up – including the Compass, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler – down.

Mr Flynn admitted that the brand is struggling after its high-water mark five years ago, but acknowledged that the challenges facing Jeep are not insurmountable.

“I think this year is a fundamental reset, but I do anticipate seeing growth this year,” he said.

“When I look at our performance currently, we’re like 1.1-1.2 per cent of the SUV segment. Jeep is like the global leader in SUVs, so its unnatural where we are.

“But I’m not being unrealistic and I’m not trying to overnight go from here to here, but what we have and what we’ve done with this plan is set ourselves a four-year window in which to really deliver the kind of business that our global board are expecting.

“Any business has expectations, and we got to drive towards those, but to be honest with you, the key thing is actually the fundamental fix – gap filling and delivering, realigning the product, making it simpler for dealers, make it simpler for customers, making models more relevant to the market needs at the moment.”

As Mr Flynn mentioned, fresh product such as the upcoming Gladiator ute will be key, as is addressing the waning consumer confidence in the brand.

While Mr Flynn would not be drawn to specific targets for the business going forward, he said there are internal metrics and that he is aware of the uphill battle Jeep faces.

“Rather than give you exact numbers, what I will say is that there isn’t anything that we haven’t set ourselves a measure,” he said.

“We can see how we’re shifting that needle, so we will know, very quickly, whether we’re on the right trajectory.

“As we make that progress, there will probably be more able to share, but I think it’s sometimes dangerous to say ‘we’re going to be this, we’re going to be that’ – in fact, there’s an element of arrogance and we’re not facing this with any arrogance, we’re facing this in a very humble approach because we understand where we are.”