With the Jeep
Compass, FCA has raised the bar on several fronts. Can you give some details?
James Lyijynen (JL): Jeep Compass is a car we
commonly refer to as “There no compromise with the Compass”. There is a level of refinement outside as
well as inside the car. The car has been refined for both off-road as well as
on-road. The feature content and materials are not consistent with those found
in competitive medium size SUV segment. We are raising the bar at Jeep with the
Compass, because we believe we have the right product in every way and this is
a market that is continuing to grow around the world. I know it is growing in
India. I think we are hitting the market at the right time with the right
Bill Zheng (BZ): There’s a lot of design research
and design clinic that were involved within various regions. This vehicle was
localised in four different regions.
Within every region, other than manufacturing, we communicated with the
market, the planning team, with various functions to gather all the information
and intelligence to put into this mid-sized SUV to make sure that we understand
the wants and needs from the customer base within these regions. We were not
just designing it for America, but for the whole world. We had that mindset in
place when we were designing this vehicle inside out.
Can you throw some
light on the small wide architecture that was kept in mind while making this
JL: The small wide architecture is just the name
of the architecture. What is very common in the automotive industry is to be
able to design a flexible architecture, a scalable architecture that can spawn
multiple vehicles. This is an architecture that has been used for a couple of
other vehicles globally. It was the right architecture to be used for this size
of vehicle. This architecture was a very important foundation for this vehicle. The Jeep Compass that we are now talking
about is more than just this architecture.
We are excited about everything that it delivers. Globally
the other products that are on the same architecture are the Jeep Renegade and
the 500X from Fiat. Those are couple of other products that are designed,
developed and sold in similar markets. As Bill said, neither has the global
reach that the Jeep Compass does. The Jeep Compass has been designed in a
manner that allows us to provide consistent formula but they also individualise
or personalise for the local markets. The Jeep Compass has been industrialised
in four assembly plants in four different regions.
This vehicle also
talks about two advanced 4X4 systems. Does that make the Jeep Compass a very
JL: Yes, it is a versatile SUV. The Active Drive
System is a 4X4 system that we will use here in India and it is a 4X4 system
that leverages the drive linedisconnect technology that allows us to seamlessly
and automatically disconnect the rear axle so that the car can function in the
4X2 front wheel drive mode. This will improve fuel economy and at the same
point of time when the traction is needed in the rear axle the driveline
reconnects the rear differential module at the back and the unit at the front
and allows all available torque to go to whatever wheel needs it. This is a
system that provides a 4X4 capability that is synonymous with the Jeep name. There
are four different modes in the Active Drive system. The Auto mode is where
most people will do their driving. It is a mode which allows the vehicle do to
the job for the customer. When the tyres sense slip, then it adjusts the
traction and torque to the appropriate tyres. It is a very intelligent system.
There are three other modes, the Snow Mode, the Sand Mode and the Mud Mode.
These are all specifically designed to leverage the torque in the ways that are
consistent with what is needed in those terrains.
The Jeep Compass will
be made in four places—Mexico, Brazil, China and India. Will there be any
specific changes in the different regions in the vehicle?
BZ: The Jeep Compass will have one universal look.
There are some very minor adaptations. For example, for the APAC region, China
and India, there is a specific Ski grade colour palette that is has been
designed for this region. But overall if you look at the geometry of the
exterior and the interior, majority of the finish is of global standard. The
vehicle that will be produced in India will be exported to several APAC markets
such as Japan, Australia, Korea, etc. What we want to do is to have the
customers across the globe to experience the same product.
In order to satisfy Indian consumers,
what was the work you did when it came to making the new Jeep Compass?
BZ: The headquarter design studio team along with
global product planning team were closely working with the Indian team and
getting constant feedbacks on the Indian market.
What is your take on SUV as a vehicle,
are these popular the world over?
BZ: My personal projection is that in the future
there would be 50pc SUVs and 50pc sedans. One advantage that we have is that
the Jeep brand is the one that invented SUV way back in 1942. That is one thing
we shall capitalise and continue to evolve.
There is also a Jeep design DNA that we strictly follow and which is the
seven slat grill, the trapezoidal wheel arch, etc which are specific to our
Jeep vehicle and DNA and that will continue to evolve.
Assuming that the
Jeep Compass will be rightly priced in India, can you give me a few reasons why
the customer will buy the vehicle here in India?
JL: I believe that there is a level of refinement,
on road and off road, also the elegant styling both outside and inside, it is a
car that has no excuses. We have spent a lot of time in its development to make
sure that the car uses the right materials in the areas that the customer
appreciates it. We have done a lot of testing and development work in India to
make sure the ride and comfort is consistent with the road inputs that you see
here. We have made sure the suspension and the chassis system is consistent
with the expectations of the Indian customers. We are really pleased with the
results that we have seen.
BZ: I know there are a lot of different
competitors and variety to be offered to a customer in India, but with the Jeep
brand we are bringing something new but it is also timeless.
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