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Toyota to drive in new SUV to take on Jeep Compass

MUMBAI: Having ruled the multi-purpose segment for almost two decades, Toyota Kirloskar is planning yet another mid-sized MPV and SUV which is expected to be lighter and more fuel efficient and priced between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 20 lakh. The vehicle will also adhere to the stringent cleaner and greener norms that carmakers have to conform to.

With the new Innova Crysta transitioning to the higher price bracket, Toyota’s new MPV is likely to sit between the Innova and the new SUV, and will take on the Jeep Compass head-on.

As per several people aware of the company’s plans, the C MPV architecture is planned for a 2022-2023 market launch, and in all likelihood will be shared by Maruti

Suzuki

, the country’s largest car maker to add to its product portfolio. “While both MPV and SUVs are being considered, the C MPV is almost in the final stages of approval, but is yet to clear some gateways,” said one of the five people in the know of the company’s plans.

The new C MPV is likely to come with a hybrid solution and will be based on the lighter monocoque, or unibody architecture, which will help the company meet the upcoming stringent corporate average fuel economy, or CAFÉ norms.

While the current Innova does not have a hybrid solution, the new C MPV is likely to come with a pure hybrid solution, which the company likes to call a ‘selfcharging electric vehicle’.

N Raja, deputy MD of Toyota Kirloskar, declined to comment on the new MPV and SUV, stating that as a policy it does not comment on future product plans, but said, “There are various products and sub-segments we are studying. The compact SUV and MPV have a strong growth potential, but I cannot say if and when we are launching them.”

Toyota, which has managed to hold its own, thanks to the strong response it got for the new Innova Crysta, needs new products in the Rs 10-20 lakh segment to graduate to the next level when it comes to volumes.

Fiat lines up more SUVs for India after the success of Jeep Compass

MUMBAI: Having tasted success with the mid-size premium sports utility vehicle Jeep Compass, North American SUV specialist Chrysler Jeep has confirmed its plan to launch a sub-4 metre SUV and a three row mid-size SUV in the Indian market to widen its consumer base.

The sub-4 metre SUV will take on the likes of Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza and Ford EcoSport, while the three row SUV will sit above the existing Jeep Compass and may take on Toyota Fortuner and Ford Endeavour.

ET had reported in September of 2016 that Fiat Chrysler is exploring the sub-4 metre SUV segment in India coinciding with its launch.

The new model launch is likely to happen only post 2020-21, and till then the company will rely on more CKD options including variants on the Compass SUV to sustain the momentum. The company is likely to get electrification option across all variants and some of that may get translated into as the Indian government too is pushing for cleaner mobility solutions. The company has sold over 23,000 Jeep Compass models in India and exported 8,000 units since its launch to Australia, UK, Japan, Singapore amongst other markets.

The company has already generated close to $700 million in revenue, which is more than double of its investment made at the Ranjangaon factory. It is apparent that Jeep brand will be the key driving force for the future in India as Fiat Chrysler Automobile begins its plans of reducing focus on the mass market with the Fiat brand across the world.

Fiat Chrysler Automobile informed the investor fraternity on Friday on the Jeep brands’ five years roadmap plan, which foresees India to play a key role of exporting vehicles to right hand drive market.

The Ranjangaon joint venture facility of Fiat India Automobile with Tata Motors on the outskirts of Pune has turned into a major right hand drive export hub. The company informed that the capacity at the facility has grown 1.5 times since the end of 2017.

Fiat Chrysler Automobile expects the SUV market to outpace the overall market growth in India and sub-4 SUVs will continue to dominate the domestic market space, stated the presentation from the company.

Citing IHS Markit, Fiat Chrysler believes the SUV market in India is likely to double to 1.6 million units by 2022.

SUV sales grow 7 times faster than cars in FY18

(This story originally appeared in on Apr 14, 2018)

NEW DELHI: If you thought that small cars and sedans are where the heart of the Indian buyer is, think again. Sale of SUVs grew seven times faster than that of passenger cars in 2017-18, the trend being fuelled by new models and changing lifestyles.

While small cars and sedans managed a growth of 3% in the last financial year, the sales of off-roaders grew 21%, the fastest in the personal commuter segment, which also includes scooters (20% growth) and motorcycles (14%). And, the share of SUVs in overall passenger vehicle sales rose to nearly 30% in 2017-18, compared to 14% recorded at the end of March 2010.

According to numbers released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam), 9.2 lakh SUVs were sold in 2017-18 against 7.6 lakh units in the previous year. The non-SUV segment (compact cars and sedans), while accounting for larger volumes, has been near-stagnant in terms of growth — sales stood at 21.7 lakh units in 2017-18 against 21 lakh units in 2016-17.

Market analysts said the trend is only going to get stronger as SUVs will continue to remain favourite with Indian buyers and companies will drive in new models. “SUVs are the order of the day, in line with global trends, and will continue to remain strong,” Rakesh Srivastava, director (sales & marketing) at Hyundai India, told TOI.

For Hyundai, share of SUVs in total sales has grown to a little over 20% now, against less than 10% before 2015. The company’s entry SUV Creta (price starts from under Rs 10 lakh), has driven this change. “SUVs are naturally suited for the Indian geography with a large road network. Their strong body architecture, higher seating position and relatively-larger cabin space make them highly desirable with buyers,” Srivastava added.

Affordability has also led to the rise in sales of SUVs. Models such as Maruti’s Brezza and Ford’s Eco Sport are priced under Rs 10 lakh, enabling many people to fulfil their desire to own an off-roader.

“SUVs have always been highly aspirational. Earlier they were very expensive. With the entry of affordable options, people have really fallen for them. For many, SUV is a lifestyle statement and an extension of their personality,” said a senior industry official, requesting anonymity.

But while affordability is driving in volumes, the trend is equally strong in premium and luxury categories. Jeep Compass (starting from Rs 15 lakh), the first locally-built SUV from Fiat Chrysler India, has seen a strong response.

“The Compass took consumer aspiration to the next level. We have already sold over 20,000 units in just eight months, and are working on new orders,” a senior official at Jeep’s parent Fiat Chrysler said. “This kind of demand demonstrates Indian market’s appetite for SUVs.”

The company is now working on another SUV Renegade, to be priced lower than Compass.

Mercedes-Benz, that leads the luxury market in India, gets nearly 35% of its sales from SUVs, including models such as GLC and GLE. “Indian customers have a penchant for SUVs and they are preferred for better road presence, proven off-road capabilities, practicality, and also for travelling with families,” Roland Folger, MD & CEO of Mercedes-Benz India, said.

FCA India aims to expand used car business

NEW DELHI: Automaker FCA India on Thursday said it is looking to expand its pre-owned car business with plans to have 65 outlets operational by August end.

The company currently runs its pre-owned car business — SELECTEDforYOU, from 42 sales outlets.

The automaker had introduced a pilot operation of SELECTEDforYOU in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad in 2019 and will now plan to scale it up across the country, FCA India said in a statement.

“The Jeep Compass enjoys exceptional residual value in the Indian automobile market, and that is a great opportunity for our customers,” FCA India President and Managing Director Partha Datta said.

SELECTEDforYOU, being cultivated as a shop-in-shop business model, assures trust, confidence and peace of mind for customers, he added.

FCA India has sold around 60,000 units of Jeep Compass in the country till date.

SELECTEDforYOU accepts vehicles of any brand in trade for either a new or pre-owned Jeep Compass, the automaker said.

Every pre-owned Jeep Compass will be certified only after a 125-point inspection check, thorough verification of past ownership, service records and extensive presale on-road testing, it added.

A SELECTEDforYOU certified Jeep Compass will be offered with a warranty of 36 months or 60,000 km complemented by 24×7 roadside assistance (RSA).

Explained: Mahindra’s fight with Fiat that puts its 14-yr-old US reputation at stake

Is the design of Roxor—Mahindra and Mahindra’s off-road utility vehicle sold in the US—stolen from the Jeep of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles? That’s what Fiat has claimed before the US International Trade Commission (USITC) which would now launch an investigation into Fiat’s claim of intellectual property rights infringement.

The USITC, in a statement said, it will set a target date for the probe. The development is crucial for Mahindra because at stake is the auto major’s 14-year-old plan to sell utility and commercial vehicles in the US, which first started in 2004.

What is Roxor?
The Roxor is an off-road utility vehicle assembled by Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA). Roxor is a version of Mahindra Thar SUV, a product that enjoys quite a fan following in India. The idea was to re-engineer an already successful product by aligning it to the needs of the American masses. Mahindra plans to invest $600 million in its Roxor unit in the US.

What is the complaint?
In its August 1 complaint at the USITC, Fiat Chrysler has claimed that Roxor copies appearance and design of Jeep, the iconic brand owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It claims the Roxor copies the boxy body shape with flat-appearing vertical sides and rear body ending at about the same height as the hood, according to Bloomberg. “They are a nearly identical copy of the iconic Jeep design. In fact, the accused product was ‘modeled after the original Willys Jeep,” says Fiat Chrysler.

Why is Fiat Chrysler complaining?
Fiat Chrysler is afraid that the Roxor might give a tough fight to its own Jeep brand. It claims that a cheaper Roxor gives Mahindra cost advantage as Mahindra imports knocked-down kits to the US from India where they are manufactured at a lower cost. According to Bloomberg, Fiat Chrysler has become increasingly reliant on its Jeep product line. The company reported its highest ever July sales for Jeep brand vehicles, up 16 per cent, to power the company’s overall 5.9 per cent jump from a year ago. Fiat Chrysler’s complaint says that Mahindra’s “substantial foreign manufacturing capacity combined with its demonstrated intention to penetrate the United States market and harm FCA’s goodwill and business.”

What Fiat Chrysler wants
Fiat Chrysler had not made a monetary claim in the complaint but was seeking to block Mahindra Automotive from importing any parts or components into the United States that infringe upon Fiat Chrysler’s intellectual property rights.

What does Mahindra say?
Mahindra has dismissed Fiat Chrysler’s complaint as without merit. It claims that the two companies have a long licensing relationship going back to the 1940s. It claims that the licensing relationship includes the original agreement with Willys and a 2009 agreement with Chrysler Group LLC, a Fiat Chrysler predecessor.

“Our actions, products, and product distribution (including Roxor) both honor the legacy of the relationship and the terms of our agreements with FCA ( Fiat Chrysler Automobiles),” said Rich Ansell, a spokesman for Mahindra’s North American unit. “Mahindra has been co-existing with FCA (and the Jeep brand) for over 25 years in India and in many other countries.”

Mahindra had filed a complaint at a Michigan Federal Court, asking it to block Fiat from participating in the USITC claim. It also filed a public interest statement with the USITC, explaining how it was in the public interest for the ITC to rule against Fiat and in favor of Mahindra.

Mahindra has “categorically rejected the notion that the ROXOR was an imported low quality “knock-off” kit car”. “We are asking the court to block Fiat from participating in the ITC claim – an injunction – because of the fact that they agreed in 2009 to never bring such claims if we use a grille that they approved. The ROXOR uses that grille. We are also arguing that Fiat is using the ITC case to harm our ROXOR business by creating negative publicity, damaging our reputation and our stature in the marketplace,” a Mahindra statement said.