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Nine speeds for Jeepster?

by David Zatz on

In an unprecedented move, it appears that the Jeepster might actually use a nine-speed automatic transmission, despite the small size of the vehicle — and presumably its small price. 

At this point, a nine-speed is reportedly just one of several options being considered, and due to cost, availability, and engineering concerns, it might not make the cut. The fact that it is being considered at all, though, speaks volumes.

One observer told Allpar that the use of such technology may be meant as part of a strategy to keep Jeep as a premium brand in Europe, which would also explain the high prices shown for Cherokee in Spain.

jeepster rendering

A photo published in Italian auto publication Quattroruote showed reflections of the Jeepster interior; it appeared to be fairly high-end, looking more like a 300C than a 500L, supporting the idea that Jeepster will not just be above average in off-road capability for the segment, but will be priced at a premium.

Given the costs of making vehicles durable in challenging terrain (particularly with regard to torsional stresses) and providing advanced traction control systems, premium pricing is likely inevitable for Jeeps if the brand is to retain off-road credibility. It may have seemed logical to go the next step and equip the vehicles with higher-grade systems and trim throughout, raising the price more but also putting them into a more profitable category. Land Rover has charged a high premium for its vehicles in the United States, despite many years of having quality ratings far below Jeep and, in some years, any other brand; with production in high-quality facilities (Melfi, for Jeepster), Jeep may be positioning itself as the Lexus of off-roaders, at least in Europe and India.

On the other hand, they might simply be testing different strategies and alternatives, thinking out of the box — as Jeep did some years ago when it considered a fully independent-suspension Jeep Wrangler(Note: this is an unconfirmed report.)

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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