Jeep Compass launched: Has Fiat Chrysler Automobiles diluted brand Jeep with this Made in India SUV?

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Published: August 4, 2017 3:16:35 AM

Besides affordable pricing, FCA India with also benefit from the fact that the made-in-India Compass will be exported to all right-hand-drive markets.

In the Indian market, it is often argued that three things, done correctly, make a car work—price, design and performance.

In the Indian market, it is often argued that three things, done correctly, make a car work—price, design and performance. Then follows after-sales service. Jeep Compass, launched by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) India earlier this week, appears to have gotten the first three right. Price: At a starting ex-showroom price of Rs 14.95 lakh for petrol and Rs 15.45 lakh for diesel, the Compass SUV is an excellent value for money. The most affordable Jeep in India, it also undercuts its rivals by a few lakh rupees. Its direct competitor, Hyundai Tucson, has a starting price of Rs 18.1 lakh (petrol) and Rs 20.6 lakh (diesel), and don’t forget that Hyundai is traditionally known for its value-for-money products. However, by pricing it lower than the competition, has FCA India diluted the brand ‘Jeep’? Gaurav Vangaal of IHS Markit, a data analysis and forecasting firm, doesn’t think so. “The Jeep brand has its own inheritance and making the Compass ‘affordable’ will not, in any way, hamper its premium image.” He adds that FCA India could have priced it higher, but the current price gives the Compass a wider customer base. Automotive journalist and the editor of Autocar India magazine Hormazd Sorabjee agrees. “At this price, the Compass will even hit sales of lower-priced products such as Mahindra XUV500, Hyundai Creta and Tata Hexa.” Kevin Flynn, the president & managing director of FCA India, says that the Compass is cleverly packaged to target customers who are contemplating buying an SUV or a crossover, positioned across a wide price range. “We developed a pricing strategy that could help us keep the product premium, yet attainable, with no compromise on quality, safety and drivability,” he said during the launch.

Besides affordable pricing, FCA India with also benefit from the fact that made-in-India Compass will be exported to all right-hand-drive markets. “This allows them to keep component costs low. Adding export volume to Indian market is always an added advantage for reaching economies of scale,” Vangaal says. Sorabjee agrees. “FCA India is banking on huge volumes both for domestic and export markets. It gives them economies of scale and deep localisation to be competitive with price.”

The Compass is being manufactured at FCA’s joint venture facility in Ranjangaon, near Pune, and is made of 65% locally-sourced components. Design: Because its design is hugely inspired by bigger brother Grand Cherokee, the smaller Compass looks like an expensive SUV. The company’s signature seven-slat grille clearly defines it as a Jeep. Again comparing it to the Tucson, the Compass looks far more muscular—a design trait customers love in an SUV.

It is also the most aerodynamic Jeep SUV made so far. Performance: We’ve driven the diesel ( and this 2.0-litre Multijet II engine that produces a peak power of 171bhp and a torque of 350Nm is a potent performer. The company has done a good job on minimising noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, and the engine clatter barely enters the cabin. While it’s not extremely fast on the road, it doesn’t feel low of power either.

Also, unlike its competitors which are soft-roaders at best—i.e. not full-blown SUVs—the Compass retains Jeep’s DNA and is available in a 4×4 trim too. Gearbox choices are six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic—the latter, again, is a first-in-segment feature. (FCA India has started taking bookings for both petrol and diesel models, but the former will be launched in October, around the festival of Diwali.) Sales and after-sales: The Compass is being sold at 50 outlets, including FCA and Jeep Destination Stores, across 47 cities.

While the number is one-tenth of say, Hyundai’s, FCA India has outlets in all major cities, essentially where its customers live, and by the end of this year the company will have expanded its dealer network to 60. Mopar: As part of the preparation for the go-to-market strategy, FCA has introduced its global service and customer care brand Mopar with the Compass. The name is short for ‘motor’ and ‘parts’. “With new vehicles, we need higher standards of service, technical competence and instant availability of parts. That’s where Mopar comes,” Flynn earlier told FE. “Our market learnings made us aware that customers’ experience with after-sales service plays a significant role in their purchase decision, regardless of how solid a product is.”

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