Home » Jeep Is Getting Kneecapped By High Prices, Supply Chain Issues, Ford Bronco

Jeep Is Getting Kneecapped By High Prices, Supply Chain Issues, Ford Bronco

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Jeep is up there with Ferrari and Tesla as a brand that’s considered among the most valuable in the world, and not just for cars but among all brands, period. (And it’s the most patriotic!) For many years, it kind of set the paradigm as SUVs—whether designed for actual off-roading or just to look the part—came to dominate the new car market. So why are Jeep sales flagging to levels that have the Stellantis CEO weighing in?

That story kicks off today’s morning roundup, and we also have dispatches covering some new Land Cruiser and 4Runner news; General Motors pushes back on aggressive new fuel economy rules; and another electric disappointment from Mazda. Let’s jump in!

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When Everyone Is Jeep, No One Is

Jeep Wrangler 4Xe driving through some water
Photo credit: Jeep

Thanks to the various supply chain disruptions over the past three years, it’s hard to parse the usual insights from new car sales figures alone. As a result, there’s one trend even I hadn’t noticed until the Wall Street Journal’s Ryan Felton pointed out (smart guy, that Felton): Jeep’s market share has been steadily declining in recent years. This, despite being one of the major Stellantis cash cows, along with Ram’s trucks.

How did this happen amid a booming SUV market? Increased competition, for one; the Ford Bronco can now do a lot of things only the Wrangler and a few of its associated models could do for a long time. That’s just one example. How many SUVs and crossovers do you see marketed as driving across a sweeping desert? I feel like damn near all of them, even if most of those cars—body-on-frame 4×4 or otherwise—will spend most of their real lives at grocery store parking lots.

But that’s only part of the problem. The other is that Jeeps are getting expensive, even in our stupid new era of sky-high car pricing.  From the WSJ: 

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The rugged American brand that spawned the modern SUV has posted lower sales for eight straight quarters. Since mid-2018, Jeep has surrendered significant market share, falling from sixth to ninth in sales among top U.S. brands.

The decline came as Jeep pushed into new vehicle categories, including a pickup-truck version of its popular Wrangler and the Grand Wagoneer, a large, luxury SUV priced above $90,000. But Jeep has faced stiffer competition in its core markets, like compact and midsize SUVs, as automakers target those categories with new offerings.

Amid the sales decline was a bright spot for Jeep’s parent company, Stellantis: The price customers paid for Jeeps has soared, helping the bottom line. Like most major automakers, Jeep gave priority to output of its priciest, most-profitable vehicles over the past three years, as supply-chain disruptions left dealership lots near empty, and consumers spent record sums for new wheels.

[CEO Carlos Tavaeres] said the brand slipped recently with ineffective marketing tactics and didn’t always have the right versions of popular models available at dealerships. The company intends to gain back market share in the coming year, he added.

“It is not rocket science,” Tavares said. “We just have to do it properly.”

Jeep, like a lot of brands, did the “Charge obscene prices for something that won’t have all the options it had before the virus hit and you’re just gonna need to deal with that” thing for a while. And it was summarily quite profitable. But now, new car supplies are getting back to normal. The competition is heating up. I don’t expect a widespread drop in car prices to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, or ever, but the worst of the pricing extravaganzas seem to be over.

Among that story’s findings: the average new Jeep price is now $55,000, America’s unsold Jeep supply is more than double the industry average, and dealers are having trouble squaring those prices with the fact that Jeeps have historically gone to people with lower credit scores. (I know that sounds mean, but it’s what the story says!)

There’s a bigger lesson to be learned here: the auto industry needs to realize that people were only going to put up with $50,000 average new car prices for so long until they just stop buying cars. So far this year sales are trending up, but I think that could have an expiration date with prices being this high. We can’t all buy like millionaires, unfortunately.

New Toyota Land Cruiser Debuts Tomorrow, New 4Runner On The Way Soon Too

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser Teaser
Photo: Toyota

Here’s an example! Toyota has spent much of the past year and this one updating its extremely dependable but ancient truck lineup. This revival was led by the new Tundra, then the new Tacoma, and now the Land Cruiser is next—and back in America after a hiatus. Don’t forget the 4Runner, which we’ll get to in a second, and the reported comeback of the FJ Cruiser. You see why Jeep is having a flop-sweat moment?

Tomorrow night, we’ll get the full slate of details on the new 2024 Land Cruiser. The latest teaser can be found above. We know it’ll be a different model from the international-market Land Cruiser that came out a few years ago, very similar to the Lexus GX that it will be built alongside it and likely sold as the Land Cruiser Prado in other places. Since it’ll be on the same TNGA-F body-on-frame platform as these other trucks as of late, we should be able to expect four-cylinder, hybrid and turbocharged V6 engine options.

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As for the 4Runner, the latest forum rumors—and take these with a grain of salt as always, but they seem plausible—sounds like it will effectively be a Tacoma SUV more than ever this time, with four-cylinder power only and tons of off-road gadgets. We could see that later this year or early next as a 2025 model.

As ever, I’m glad to see Toyota going big on hybrid power for these ultra-popular SUVs and trucks. Because…

GM Balks At New Fuel Economy Rules, Biden Administration Says Deal With It

President Biden Tours Broad Portfolio Of Evs At Detroit Auto Show
Photo: Chevrolet

Once again, tough new fuel economy rules are coming and once again, the auto industry is throwing a hissy fit about how hard and expensive it will be before they figure out how to just do it. Under those proposed rules, NPR reports, fleetwide fuel economy averages could be 58 mpg by 2023. And that could also include revising the outdated and frankly nonsensical MPGe ratings for EVs, which I think are fairly useless. (It could also mean that automakers can’t lean fully on EVs to reduce their fleet averages, but that seems TBD.)

Reuters reports GM is pushing back, but the feds say pffft:

General Motors warned the Biden administration’s planned changes to vehicle emissions rules could cost the auto industry hundreds of billions of dollars in penalties by 2031, which the Biden administration said on Thursday was wrong.

[…] At the meeting, GM estimated the auto industry as a whole could face $100 billion to $300 billion in total penalties — or $1,300 to $4,300 per vehicle — from 2027 to 2031 depending on whether an Energy Department proposal to revise the petroleum-equivalent fuel economy rating for electric vehicles (EV) is enacted.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which oversees Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations, said late on Thursday GM’s “estimate is pure speculation and inaccurate.” The agency will release its proposal to hike CAFE requirements for 2027 and beyond on Friday, sources familiar with the agency’s plans said, after the White House signed off on Tuesday.

This is why I’d like to see GM turn some of those gas SUVs and trucks it’s going to make forever into hybrids, like Toyota’s doing. But so far the GM strategy, unlike Toyota and Ford, is to “skip a step” and go straight to EVs. I question the wisdom in that, personally—though I’m also here complaining about new car prices being too high, so screw me, right?

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It Would Also Be Nice To See Mazda Take Electrification Seriously At All

Mx 30
Photo: Mazda

Remember when we all hinged our hopes for a rotary engine revival on that Mazda MX-30? Well, like every new rotary engine car you’ve hoped for since the RX-8 was put out to pasture, you can throw those dreams straight into the trash. The MX-30, all variants of it, are now dead in California, the only state where it was sold. American buyers just couldn’t get behind its 100-mile EV range (understandable) and the rotary range extender option was deemed not worth it (kind of a shame.) Car and Driver says only 66 were sold this year through June. Yeesh.

The MX-30 will live on in Japan and Europe, where it’s better suited to exist anyway. But if you want a Mazda option that’s not purely internal combustion, your options remain extremely limited here:

Mazda will discontinue MX-30 EV for the U.S. market following the 2023 model year. Our current U.S. electrification efforts are focused on large platform PHEVs, such as the first-ever 2024 CX-90 PHEV and upcoming CX-70 PHEV, as well as introducing CX-50 Hybrid into our lineup to address the specific needs of the U.S. market.

I’d like to point out that only one of the cars on that list is actually on sale right now and it’ll set you back at least $50,000. So while other automakers are in some cases racing full-tilt toward EVs, Mazda says “we’ll get you some hybrids at some point, maybe, just like we did with those diesels.”

I get that Mazda’s a small, independent car company and it’s tough to compete with the big players. But it needs to show buyers—and fans—that it’s serious about what’s coming next with automotive powertrains, lest it faces total irrelevance. Or gets bought out at fire-sale prices by SAIC Motor and those folks sort things out for them.

Your Turn

Congratulations! You have been appointed Head of the Jeep® Brand. Like that scientist guy in Captain America, someone sees something in your courage and patriotism—not to mention your very good car takes. How do you go about reviving Jeep’s fortunes in the U.S. and beyond?

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Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
9 months ago

Well, obviously just need to make David “Rusty” Tracy the president of Jeep!

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