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Micro-Jeeps and Mahindra

by David Zatz on

FCA has dropped many hints about smaller Jeeps for markets outside North America. It makes sense to assume that it would be built along the lines of the current Compass or Fiat Panda — essentially, the “tough 4×4 wagon” style.

But that’s not the only possibility.

Indian automaker Mahindra has long made “traditional” Jeeps under their own name, descendants of original Willys designs. They look like the CJ series, and are closer in size, weight, and power than the  Wrangler.  Quality may be a weak point, but it brings up the question of an alliance.


Suppose that Jeep leaders were tired of seeing Toyota Tacomas and Land Rovers when they watch news programs about Africa, the Middle East, and remote parts of South America. Suppose they wanted to see Jeeps instead, or to spread the American impression of Jeep around the world. Could they do it with a lighter-weight Compass or a tougher Panda? Probably not.

For that goal, we’re talking simple, cheap, tough, and very mobile. That brings us back to 1941 Bantam (or, at least, to the 1946 Willys CJ2A), with some provision to prevent rollovers.

The easiest way to get there might actually be to work with Mahindra, which shares CAD software (Siemens NX) with FCA.  The two could work together to adapt, though probably not to actually build, one of the Mahindras. Alternately, FCA could make a flat payment for the intellectual property, and a new micro-Jeep is ready to go — outside of India — with a little Fiat diesel or a GSE gasoline engine under the hood.

We’re not saying it’s rumored or likely — but it’s possible, and it might help to establish Jeep’s reputation as a “go-anywhere” vehicle in new parts of the globe.

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