Car News

Jeep: We’ll regain customer trust next year

Jeep admits it has lost customer trust but says it can ‘erase that pretty quick.’

JEEP AUSTRALIA WILL front a recovery plan next year that will ‘relaunch’ the brand as it seeks to regain customer trust.

The American carmaker best known for its adventurous off-roading Wrangler and big Grand Cherokee SUV is seeking to win back favour with customers since sales began sliding south five years ago. Recording over 30,000 sales in Australia in 2014, Jeep sold only just over 7300 units locally last year.

Recovery looks difficult with recent negative press from some customers about reliability, however, newly appointed global president Christian Meunier reassured Australian media this week at the launch of the upcoming Jeep Gladiator ute that there was no issue with the product. He did, however, say that the brand had lost trust.

Jeep Gladitator ute New Zealand

“I think there is the work of trust we need to re-establish somewhat,” he said.

“I think what is clear is that whenever there were a few issues that popped up, that the responsibility of an executive is to jump on it and fix it, and that wasn’t done. That was done too late and in a poor fashion.”

Meunier defends the product lineup, citing that quality is at a level equal to or higher than other manufacturers.

“I think the quality of our product is as good if not as good as our competitor. In a market like Japan in which expectation is even higher, we have no quality issue.

“We have good quality, I don’t think the problem is quality, it is the management of the customer.

“You never leave by definition the customers between the dealer and the manufacturer, the manufacturer’s role is that if the dealer doesn’t take good care of the customer for whatever reason, our role is to fix it immediately, and that was not done. “

Meunier added that the fact residual value of Jeeps was high was reason enough that there is no issue with Jeep product in most buyers’ minds.

“Another reason I am very confident is that resale values are very good. So our product holds good residual used and this is the best testament our cars are good and accepted, otherwise our resale is bad, right?

The solution to the issue which Jeep will implement is to relaunch the brand in 2020. Everything the business does has been reconsidered and Meunier says that all facets from marketing to pricing will be reset.

“In 2020 we relaunch the brand, which includes brand, marketing, dealer margin, press, comms, CRM, product position, pricing – pretty much the whole spectrum.

“We are going to address everything, it is not one thing.

“You will see momentum building because the employees are going to start believing again, the dealers are going to believe, and the customers are going to talk about that. I think there will be a buzz about that, and it’s going to take a little bit of time, but I don’t think it will take five years. I think it is going to be pretty quick because momentum builds momentum.

“When you have really broken foundations, then it becomes a problem because it takes forever to rebuild. So I don’t think we’re there despite the few issues you are referring to, which aren’t that big of a deal and we can erase that pretty quick.”

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae