We assisted at a round table discussion and made an interview with an automotive expert, Steve Zalunghi. He now puts all his expertise of Brand Strategy Development, Sales, Marketing (including digital strategies), Network, Franchise Development into the scale to meet the challenges in his present function, having full oversight and leadership of the Jeep brand for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Region.
It is a well known fact that Jeep is going from strength to strength in this region, last but not least in Europe.
Reason enough to have an interesting talk and discussion with him about the future of the Jeep brand in Europe…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Q: We are especially interested to know how Jeep sees their expansion in the different regions, and more especially in the EMEA region?
Steve Zanlunghi answered that indeed, the Renegade is a success with not less than 50 % of sales coming from the new Renegade.
The Renegade is attracting new customers from the B and C segment...
One should now here that at Jeep we split the sales in four different regions, notably North American Free Trade Agreement region (NAFTA); Latin America (LATAM); Asia-Pacific including China (APAC); and Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA, which includes the EU28 and EFTA/EU28+EFTA).
This IMEA region, or Europe, Middle East and Africa growing in importance.
On the Investor Day, held on 6th of August 2014, the FCA laid out a five-year plan for the company's global aspirations.
Jeep is first and foremost a lifestyle brand, and the Wrangler is quite iconic... look at the headlamps: a Mopar accessory...
Key to most of the company's forecasts is an increase in global Jeep sales from 0.7 million units in 2013 to 1.9 million in 2018, which reflects a 22% growth – slightly lower than the 24% growth Jeep reported for 2009–14 sales growth.
The majority of the Jeep brand's sales growth for 2009–14 was in the NAFTA region, with international sales growing from 60,000 units to 240,000 units, while NAFTA sales grew from 270,000 units to 770,000 units over the same period.
The brand lifestyle fits the girl, or does the girl fit the lifestyle?
Last year the EMEA region was number three, now we overtook China, we will now be the number two region for the Jeep brand, said Mr. Steve Zanlunghi.
As we start to introduce new products, he continued, our IMEA weight will grow from 7-8 pct to 10 pct.
On our Investors Day Meeting, we announced that we will be introducing a C SUV in the near future, which will bring us more market share.
To answer your question of where are we at, we said in the beginning of last year that our target would be 800.000, and then at the Geneva auto show, our boss Mr. Marchionne said this figure is too low, we have to crank it up to 1 million. We are already there, and we will sell over a million vehicles this year. Not less than 980 dealers in the EMEA region are indeed welcoming these customers in this “Jeep family”. This well established dealer network is large and has the capacity and capability to do the job.
For 2014–18, on the investors day it was announced that Jeep forecasts 50% growth for LATAM, 45% for APAC, 35% for EMEA, and less than 10% for NAFTA.
Q: The question was raised about future products, what about a pick up?
Also the Cherokee breathes this unique Jeep character...
Mr. Steve Zanlunghi answered that he can only comment on the products showed on the investor day, and that does not include a pick up for the time being... but a Grand Wagoneer will be there in 2018, (to target products like Range Rover)…
Q: Is there room for performance oriented vehicles?
Mr. Zalunghi: Well, we do have a Grand Cherokee SRT, and the fact that we have an SRT out there on the stand floor does mean something...
Q: What about emphasising further the brand's unique character with accessories?
Mr. Zalunghi: Well you have seen that we work together with Mopar accessories. The orange Wrangler on our stand here has Mopar headlamps for instance. We are thinking of bringing part of the Mopar catalogue to IMEA.
Jeep offers clients a unique, premium experience, not only in the showroom, but also when it comes to offering after sales service, offering them unique and lifestyle accessories enhancing the Jeep DNA...
... Q: This is indeed touching part of my question, more specifically about new clients, coming from the B and C segment. They have a certain idea about Jeep, they have certain expectations about the brand and its cars, even when they have never driven them before. These expectations, these unspoken desires and what they want to see in the cars of the brand have to coincide with those from the faithful clients who have driven and owned Jeeps for years if not their whole lives. This is not an easy task, last but not least for the dealer network…
Mr. Zalunghi: Indeed, it is not. For instance we have the pure “Jeepers” who get upset and in arms when we dare to change anything. But we have other, new clients, and we have done a fairly good job so far to satisfy both ends of the client spectrum.
Jeep is a lifestyle brand, we are fully aware of that, when you have someone into the Jeep family, you to work hard to get him so upset that he will choose another brand, and when going back to the dealer network, it is not so much the corporate identity, but it is also the actual customer experience, that is indeed something else, and we are working hard on this.
We want to have that premium experience in the showroom, as well as in the cars.
Jeep offered a premium experience on their Frankfurt stand with real trees...
Q: What about the global markets?
Mr. Zalunghi: Wherever you are, whatever the market, there will be people who are going to buy cars. It is all about scaling your operations to be able to sell your vehicles profitably in those countries. That's what we are doing, we find a balance between the pricing and the profits.
Markets are cyclical, right now the US auto market is riding high, three years ago, we were coming out of one of the worst depressions we have seen. South America is right now a tough market, but eventually it will come back.
We are set up there with the infrastructure and the manufacturing and we will take advantage of it. As a global brand, we have almost a natural hedge between the different regions. Three years ago, Brazil was lifting us up, now the US has taken over, also the IMEA region is now profitable.
Hans Knol ten Bensel