Canadian dealers call for a cheaper Jeep from FCA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles needs to produce a compact utility vehicle priced to compete with products from Toyota, Honda and Nissan, FCA dealers say.

“We need to have an entry price point in the $25,000to-$30,000 range,” said Rob Coleman, general manager of Big 4 Motors Ltd. in Calgary, western Canada’s largest volume Grand Cherokee dealer. “We need to be sub$30,000.

“I think we could get a much larger piece of the market in that price range.”

Jeep plans to expand its lineup, recently unveiling the Grand Wagoneer, which will compete in the luxury-SUV segment. While the brand offers two compact utility vehicles — the Renegade and Compass — some dealers say the pricing is not competitive with the Toyota RAV4, the Honda CR-V or the Nissan Qashqai.

FCA also offers the Fiat 500X, but the company sold only 50 in all of Canada in 2019, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit.

According to FCA, the base 2021 Jeep Compass Sport 2WD lists for $30,490 (all prices include a destination charge of $1,895), and the Compass Upland 4X4 is $34,485. The base Renegade Sport 2WD has an MSRP of $29,490. The lowest-priced 4WD Renegade, the Altitude 4X4, starts at $36,540.

The Nissan Qashqai offers an all-wheel-drive model starting at $28,148, including $1,950 freight. The base S manual-transmission front-wheel-drive model is priced at $23,448, including freight.

The Compass in 2019 generated 7,652 sales compared with 65,248 and 55,859 for the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, respectively.

RIGHT PRODUCT, WRONG PRICE

Logan Murray, general sales manager for Murray Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep in Okotoks, Alta., north of Calgary, agreed the problem is the entry-level vehicles are priced higher than some competitors’.

“We have nice products in that market but they’re too much money — over $30,000,” she said.

Big 4 has been able to increase Compass sales when it discounts the price as a “loss leader” to meet manufacturer’s volume targets, Coleman said.

“We’ve lost thousands of dollars discounting Compasses just to get some customers.”

Stephanie Brinley, principal auto analyst with IHS Markit in Michigan, says FCA might be after more than sales volume.

“I think that Jeephasalways tried to place itself as a premium brand. There’s an aspirational quality to it.” While they might not have plush interiors, they are known for their extreme off-road capabilities.

In a statement to Automotive News Canada, FCA said the base MSRP of the 2021 Compass was reduced by $1,650. The Compass comes with a class-exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission, heated front seats and a compact spare tire (4×4), the automaker said. Features include: 16-inch aluminum wheels, heated front seats, seven-inch touch screen radio with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and SiriusXM Satellite radio with one-year subscription.

Brinley added that FCA might look to many more factors than volume of sales, such as hitting profit targets per vehicle.

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