Interview with Interview with James Lyijynen & Bill Zheng

Chief Program Engineer, Jeep Compass, FCA Global / Head of Design, FCA, APAC

Date: 16 Apr 2017 | Author: Roy P.Tharyan
James & Bill

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 product.

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 product?

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 versatile SUV?

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. 

James Lyijynen

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. 

Bill Zheng

Tags Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCA India FCA APAC Jeep Compass James Lyijynen Bill Zheng

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Interview with James Lyijynen & Bill Zheng
Date - 16 Apr 2017

Chief Program Engineer, Jeep Compass, FCA Global / Head of Design, FCA, APAC

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