LOS ANGELES -- The new Jeep Compass will outsell the popular Renegade in Europe and globally, brand CEO Mike Manley said while launching the compact SUV at the auto show here.
"It has every opportunity to be the biggest-selling Jeep ever," he said.
The Compass, which Manley said would be launched in Europe "before September," will compete against SUVs such as the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Tiguan and Hyundai Tuscon in a segment that grew by 20 percent to more than 722,300 units in the first half, according to JATO Dynamics.
Manley predicted that the sector would grow at the same pace between now and 2020, giving Jeep a large sales opportunity. "It's the biggest SUV segment in Europe and we don't really play there at all," he said.
Outselling the Renegade in Europe won't be easy. The subcompact SUV, which Jeep produces in Italy, currently accounts for more than 70 percent of the brand's European sales. In the first half it ranked as Europe's No. 8-selling subcompact SUV with a volume of 40,447, putting it ahead of models such as the Ford EcoSport.
Manley also said the Compass will be the automaker's "most global vehicle" because it will be produced in four factories worldwide.
Jeep will make most of its Compass models for Europe in Toluca, Mexico, while right-hand-drive versions destine for the region will be produced in parent Fiat Chrysler Automobile's plant in Rajangaon, India, Manley said. He added that Europe also could get some Compass units from FCA's plant in Pernambuco, Brazil, where Jeep will also build the car for the local market. The Compass will also be built in Guangzhou, China.
Jeep plans to The Compass will be launched "before September" next year, Manley said without being more specific.
Manley denied reports in the Italian press saying European cars would be built in Pomigliano d'Arco, Italy. "European production is not planned at the moment," he told journalists on the sidelines at the show.
Although the Compass shares FCA's New Small Wide four-wheel-drive architecture with the Renegade, it will have a "sportier feel" with less body roll than its platform mate, the car's chief engineer, Art Anderson, told Automotive News Europe.
The Compass will be available with either a 1.6- or a 2.0-liter diesel in Europe as well as 2.4-liter gasoline unit. Smaller gasoline engines will follow later. The SUV will offer nine- or six-speed automatic transmissions as well as a six-speed manual.