“A new mini Jeep will not damage the brand’s tough image.” Says Jeep president Mike Manley, who also said that at least one version of its upcoming micro Jeep will be ‘trail-rated’. The new model will take on models like the Skoda Yeti and upcoming Ford EcoSport in a new sub-small SUV segment when it arrives in 2015. The new mini Jeep will be produced in both Rhd (right hand drive) and Lhd (left hand drive). Various reports had suggested the baby Jeep would be built off the same base as the Fiat Panda, but Manley said that was not the case. It will be based off a Fiat platform. Being a smaller chassis, will that entail a smaller engine as well? A lot of questions remain unanswered. Originally the mini Jeep was going to be only sold in Europe but with European sales down 35% it might be possible to see this model come to North America.
The platform was not developed for off-road work, but Jeep is spending the money to make sure it can make it a reasonable distance off road. “The base technology comes from existing platforms within Fiat. Then Fiat engineers and Jeep engineers make all of the appropriate changes to make a Jeep and that’s very important. We can do that because the way the technology has changed in the last few years in the way that we can do power take off units, how we can incorporate AWD, how we can do axle disconnects, all of those things. If we can’t make it trail-rated we won’t make it,” Manley said. Mike Mainly seems determined to keep the Jeep spirit with this mini version, but the actual ability of the finished product will tell its true potential.