Launched in June, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee has enjoyed a massive success, as sales last month were up 291% compared to October 2009. So it comes to no surprise that Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat and Chrysler, is considering the use of the Grand Cherokee's architecture on a variety of new models including Fiat, Maserati and Alfa Romeo SUVs, and possibly for a future Chrysler variant.
"The [Grand Cherokee] architecture has legs. It's important for us to tap all of the hard work that has gone on inside Chrysler on the new Grand Cherokee," said Marchionne during a conference call on the Chrysler Group's Q3 financial results. "It has a level of solidity and resilience that we have underestimated."
Marchionne added that the Grand Cherokee's platform, which was developed with Chrysler's former partner Mercedes-Benz, is capable of handling more powerful engines.
If a decision were to be made, all versions of these SUVs could enter the market as early as 2012 with production to most likely take place at the Jefferson North plant, which already runs two shifts, but can easily accommodate a third should the need arise.
The Detroit plant is an obvious choice as it has shown critical progress in the quality of assembly. "I'm delighted with the performance of the Jefferson plant here in Michigan" Mr. Marchionne added.
The same plant is also used for the trial production of the 2011 Dodge Durango, which is also based on the new Grand Cherokee and is scheduled to go on sale next month.
By Csaba Daradics