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Mini-Jeep engines, name, launch date

by David Zatz on

A reader from Italy wrote that Chrysler’s senior vice president of engineering, Mark Chernoby, has visited the Fiat Melfi plant again, telling workers in an informal speech that he was impressed by their enthusiasm; the atmosphere in the plant is said to be “electric.”  A small Jeep, coded BU, is set for production there in early July, possibly on July 4. Over a hundred have been made for testing, and are camouflaged even inside the plant. 
Engines were confirmed by our “informal sources” as being the 2.4 liter World Engine (North America only), the Fiat 1.4 (Europe), and the 1.6 and 2.0 liter Fiat MultiJet diesels (worldwide except North America). “The handling is outstanding and the nine transmission is confirmed.” (The nine speed might be an option or only available in top trim.) We were also told that many parts are being sourced from the United States.
As for the name: media outlets were told it was “certain” that the new worldwide Jeep would be called “Jeepster.” Then, we were told the name Latitude would be applied, though it’s currently used just for a trim line. Finally, rumors settled on Laredo. 

Jeepster has been ruled out mainly because Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne himself told Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette that it would not be used. Latitude is a stuttery name that makes little sense, and is already used for a trim line; while Laredo carries that American-West flare, it too is used as a trim line name.

Perhaps the reality is that Chrysler will simply use the moderately popular Compass name, already established in large parts of the world, and apply it to the new car. The other Compass is due to be dropped within roughly the same time-frame. That will leave a C-sized compact Jeep, which could retain the Patriot name.

This revised rendering is based on the numerous spy shots of the “BU.”  


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