Right after posting sales gains that most automakers would sell their souls for, Jeep’s skyrocketing climb hit the upper limits of the atmosphere in September, with sales dropping by three % compared to the very same month a year ago.
Perhaps the Jeep brand is not larger than Jesus. With the new vehicle marketplace cooling off and two of its oldest — but nonetheless strong-promoting — models being pared down to 1, Jeep requirements to branch out to preserve the momentum going.
It has products up its sleeve — a Wrangler pickup and $ 140,000 luxo-ute to name a couple — and has factories planned for developing nations everywhere, but Jeep could reap a sales reward if it stopped screwing up in a single obvious but overlooked marketplace.
With the exception of the American Southwest, Australia seems tailor-made for the Jeep brand. There’s warm temperatures, beaches, desert, and a patriotic thirst for off-roading and automobiles that buck the norm. Hell, the place is almost all rural.
And but, Jeep sales are dwindling to pathetic levels Down Beneath. What went wrong at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia?
For starters, the firm was rocked by a scandal, with FCA Australia suing former Jeep boss Clyde Campbell for allegedly misusing $ 30 million in funds throughout his 3-year stint (2010-2013). His successor Pat Dougherty, stepped down (or was pushed out) in August, two years into his 3-year contract.
In 2015, a record-setting year for Australian new car sales, Jeep saw its sales tumble 19.7 percent. That is a tally of 24,418 Jeep vehicles for the whole year. The last time the U.S. recorded a month-to-month sales figure that low was in 2010. Australian Jeep sales in the first half of this year are down 51 %. Is it a hemisphere factor? What goes up in America goes down in the outback?
FCA Australia’s newest boss does not think so, and feels he knows specifically what the brand’s dilemma is. According to the Aussie publication Drive, Steve Zanlunghi claims the brand’s advertising is all off, and says he desires to reclaim the historically tough, go-anywhere appeal that has drawn clients — military and civilian — to Jeep from Day 1.
“It’s not a cute brand,” Zanlunghi told reporters this week. “It’s not a funny brand. It’s not luxury. It is not pretentious.”
A new ad campaign is poised to launch, a single that takes the place of a panned commercial that had Australians incredulously asking “You bought a Jeep?”
“I inform you I wasn’t terribly satisfied with what some of the path I saw most recently,” Zanlunghi said. “If we don’t comprehend what the brand is, then how do we anticipate dealers to comprehend it and eventually customers, do they know what it is? So I put together a manifesto for what the Jeep brand here is Australia and presented it to our inventive agency and they get it, and then to the national sales company and they get it and ultimately to the dealers and they get it and they’re on board.”
Australia hasn’t escaped the SUV/crossover craze sweeping the planet, with SUV sales up nearly 16 % last year. Industry share for utility vehicles is closing in on percentages noticed in the U.S. If Jeep Australia stops shooting itself in the foot, there’s gold to be found in them there hills.
[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]