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‘One can tell a Jeep from its sheer presence’

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 17, 2018

All smiles Kevin Flynn, President and MD of FCA India


Kevin Flynn, President and MD of FCA India, is confident that the brand will strike a chord

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles India will launch a trio of Jeeps in the coming weeks. They will be CBU diesels with their petrol versions likely to come in by the end of this year. Next year will see some of these iconic vehicles be locally manufactured including one specifically for this market. Kevin Flynn, President and Managing Director of FCA India, discusses the road ahead for Jeep. Excerpts:

What kind of brand strategy will FCA India adopt for Jeep given the mixed awareness levels for the brand among target buyers?

It is true that Jeep is a generic description for any vehicle that has high ground clearance, looks rugged and has a go-anywhere personality and to some degree capability. Remember, Jeep invented, pioneered and popularised off-roading and that coined the term ‘SUV’.

We plan to launch CBUs first and the audience we will target for the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler will be those who would be fully aware of the Jeep brand, its products and their capability. Such target audience would have travelled the world and potentially even experienced Jeep in other countries so will know what they are buying. Those who perhaps require more education and enlightenment about the band I’m sure will be highly attracted to our localised Jeeps. Until then, and importantly, we feel there is adequate time to establish the Jeep brand with the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler. Besides, the styling of Jeep really stands out in both products with its seven-slot grille and trapezoidal wheel arches, to name a couple of prominent, iconic design cues. The positioning of Jeep in India will be two-pronged: The Grand Cherokee will be positioned as a luxury flagship and the Wrangler, the stylish very capable off-roader with can do, go anywhere attitude.

So will it be heritage, off-roading ability or lifestyle quotient that will be pitched as the launch platform?

History, lineage, luxury, capability and authenticity will largely encompass Jeep’s positioning when we roll out the carpet. Whilst Jeeps are known for their unmatched off-roading capability, Indian buyers might see Jeep slightly differently by considering capability albeit from the lens of luxury.

Can you share some details on the product launch roadmap for Jeep in India?

We will first launch the iconic flag bearers of Jeep - the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler in India via the direct import route. This will be followed by an all-new premium, but localised Jeep which will be manufactured at our Ranjangaon facility to be rolled out in the second quarter of 2017. We are progressing well with our product plans as we would like to capitalise on the huge opportunity that lies for us in India.

After the erstwhile model licensing agreement, Mahindra still uses some of the original Jeep’s design traits like round headlamps and seven-slat grille. Will this distract Jeep buyers?

One can tell a Jeep from its sheer presence, quality and certain design characteristics that are absolutely original. World over we have seen that the virtues of Jeep have inspired many but the differentiator is in its driving and capability off the road, which is unmatched by anything out there.

Will FCA India consider a permanent showcase or brand store for Jeep India given the brand’s draw amongst passionate youngsters who may not be current day car buyers?

We will launch Jeep flagship dealer showrooms in 10 cities in India and these will have all the elements for those interested. Our plan is to offer customers a unique drive experience that not only showcases the product but will also give them an extensive brand experience.

Bollywood and Jeep – are there are connections in the offing?

Historically, cinema and Jeep have had many connections over decades but as we launch the brand officially in India, we would like to take the opportunity to leverage the individuality of Jeep’s personality instead of using a Bollywood brand ambassador. We might explore associations in the future though, if we come across anything that might suit the positioning of Jeep.

Published on August 18, 2016

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