With the house of Stellantis constantly exploring the upper echelons of what customers will pay for a rig with a Jeep badge on its nose, it seems that placing six-figure Grand Wagoneer L models next to entry-level Ram work trucks has become passé. If some corner-office dwellers have their way, Jeeps – or at least the snazzy ones – could earn a place in their own showroom.
It’s a trick as old as the auto industry itself, of course. Witness the spectre of Lincoln showrooms bifurcating their way through Ford stores like a caramel-colored slice of sweet cake. Separating the wheat from the chaff is a common way of catering to customers planning on splashing out the big bucks – especially if they are new to the brand and trading out of a legacy luxury brand. Jeep wants in on this action.
According to Automotive News, brand CEO Christian Meunier expects that more than 300 dealers will be adding Jeep-only sections to their premises over the next two calendar years. He anticipates these spaces will house rigs like the Grand Wagoneer L mentioned above, plus the forthcoming all-electric SUVs from the off-road brand. Some, like the Michigan-based LaFontaine dealer shown at the top of this post, jumped on the idea way back in pre-pandemic times, reserving (and branding) a wing of their new facility solely for the purposes of hawking Jeeps.
Notice nowhere in the missive does it suggest a stand-alone dealership for Jeep. GM went down that road with the Hummer brand 15 years ago, leaving many of the inventively designed buildings high and dry when The General smothered the brand with a pillow during an embarrassing sojourn through bankruptcy. Still, there’s an appetite to cleave Jeep just slightly from the typical Stellantis dealer hive.
“Because of the product plan and the growth opportunity for Jeep in North America in the next five years, the dealers are going to be, I think, very much engaged,” Meunier said in an interview with Automotive News. This author recently spent a healthy amount of time chatting with the Jeep CEO during the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab and can confidently say the man is all-in on pushing the Jeep envelope both in terms of product and price.
Will dealership groups and retailers be on board with this idea? Knowing the thought processes of dealer principals, we can confidently say they’ll jump only if they see the return on investment – or a change in their allocations, of course. It’ll be interesting to see which ones pick up the gauntlet versus who continues to pack six-figure Grand Wagoneers cheek-to-jowl with stripped-out work vans.
[Image: LaFontaine Automotive Group]
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