Jeep Has Been Slipping—But It Has a Plan to Turn Things Around

More electrics and 4xe plug-in hybrids are coming, and Wagoneer is folded back into Jeep.

Alisa PriddleWriterWilliam WalkerPhotographer

Feb 23, 2024

Jeep is not meeting its potential, mistakes have been made, and amends are coming in the form of new models and dropping the idea of making Wagoneer a sub-brand, we’ve learned in a discussion with its new global CEO, Antonio Filosa.

Jeep is a brand in transition to electric vehicles and under new leadership. It has successful plug-in hybrids and the first pure electric, the Jeep Avenger subcompact SUV, is on sale in Europe and being well received. North America will get its first fully electric Jeep in the Wagoneer S premium midsize SUV, which starts production in the second quarter and goes on sale in the fall. By year’s end the Jeep Recon, an electric off-road vehicle with capability just shy of a Wrangler, could join the lineup. Officials are not saying if the Recon will be a 2024 or 2025 model.

The Wagoneer S and Recon models being shown to dealers and media are 99 percent production ready, says Filosa.  We were not allowed to take pictures of the essentially production-ready concepts during our meeting with Filosa but the images already out there are pretty accurate.

The Wagoneer S has a new take on the seven-slot grille with an illuminated front fascia and a cool integrated spoiler and lip at the back of what is a sleek SUV that eschews the brand’s traditional look. It will be the fastest Jeep available, with 600 horsepower from a dual motor setup,  giving it a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.5 seconds. It will be the first Jeep on the new STLA Large platform. Its main competitor: the hugely popular Tesla Model Y.

Wagoneers Are Jeeps, Just Like You Thought Already

A tiny revision to the Wagoneer S heralds a significant change for the brand overall—look closely at the Wagoneer S’s tail, and you’ll notice it now has “Jeep” badging on the back. The original concept said “Wagoneer.” That is because the brand is abandoning its efforts to make Wagoneer a sub-brand, a strategy Filosa admits was confusing to customers, was heavily criticized, and never really took off. Going forward, all models: WagoneersGrand Wagoneers, and the Wagoneer S, will be branded and marketed as Jeeps, which the new CEO says should have been the case all along. The convergence to Jeep branding will take place as quickly as possible. The priority is to make the existing Wagoneer family of vehicles successful under the Jeep moniker before deciding whether to add any more models with Wagoneer in the name. Bill Peffer, the new head of Jeep in North America, says there is also equity in the Wagoneer name that dates back more than 60 years.

Efforts are also underway to simplify the number of configurations offered in the Wagoneer lineup, which makes it easier for the consumer and less complexity reduces cost and improves quality. There will still be short- and long-wheelbase versions of both the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, with the longer versions denoted by the letter “L.”

More Electrons

Jeep will offer electrified options across the entire range by 2025, Filosa says. Jeep is having success with its plug-in hybrids. The Jeep Wrangler 4xe is the top selling PHEV in the U.S. followed by the Grand Cherokee PHEV, Filosa says. They have more than 50 percent market share and this year that will grow to 55-60 percent this year with projected sales of 175,000-180,000 plug-in hybrids. Add to that about 10,000 pure EVs when the Wagoneer S goes on sale later this year.

We await 4xe versions of the Gladiator pickup and Grand Wagoneer (both of which have been previously announced). The Grand Wagoneer 4xe was slated for this year with a combined gas engine and electric motor range of about 500 miles from a single charge.

Overall, Jeep SUVs with a variety of powertrains will play in more segments, going from 49 percent in 2023 to 60 percent this year with the Wagoneer competing in the competitive D-segment, and growing to 85 percent in 2025 with additional new products including the Recon and five more new models, some of them new nameplates.

We also expect to see Wagoneers and Grand Wagoneers with range-extenders like the Ram 1500 Ramcharger which uses the same platform. Filosa would not confirm that range extenders will be added to the Jeep lineup but said it is an idea under consideration and implementation would take 18 to 24 months.

Filosa spent much of his career with the Fiat brand and he has been posted in the United Kingdom, Spain, Chicago, Argentina, and 18 years in Brazil where he was also head of Stellantis Latin America and launched a new Jeep plant and three models in that country. Under his tenure Jeep went from less than 1 percent market share to 20 percent.

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