The Chinese auto market is a bit different than the US. The top selling vehicles are smallish minivans, CUV’s, and a few VW and Buick sedans. The Chinese really like Americana, and the Jeep brand is a prime example. The new Jeep Grand Commander (K8) is looking to be a big part of FCA’s Chinese product plan but why make a three row small midsize CUV instead of simply making a three row Grand Cherokee using the floor plan of the Durango? Well there are a few reasons and one is profitability. The Grand Commander will be produced at the GAC/FCA joint venture in Changsha which is in the Hunan providence in Southern China, saving import taxes which will make it more price competitive than the Grand Cherokee can ever be due to import tariffs. Importing the Grand Cherokee to China is quite costly at this time due to a 25% tariff being applied to each vehicle. The tariffs between the US and China are currently under negotiation with China pledging to drop the tariff 10 points down to 15%, but that is still a hefty tariff compared to the 2.5% that US charges for each Chinese vehicle imported to our shores. Seven passenger vehicles are very popular in China, which also makes the Grand Commander more competitive than the Grand Cherokee.
Despite what Jalopnik claims, the Grand Commander is not an extended Grand Cherokee or Durango wearing a new dress. They clearly have not been paying attention because the Grand Commander is actually a heavily revised version of the Jeep Cherokee (KL). Because it is based on a version of the CUSW platform it will have access to all the same powertrains and technology currently seem in the Cherokee and the Pacifica. The Grand Commander will be available in front wheel drive, all wheel drive, and will also feature a hybrid version that will most likely see many of the components from the Pacifica Hybrid make its way under the hood.
Will the Grand Commander be sold in the US? No, more than likely it will not as it will not meet the majority of engineering and design requirements that Jeep uses in the US. It is based on a FWD platform, the front and rear overhangs simply destroy the approach and departure angles on this vehicle. With that in mind, it is doubtful that FCA spent millions of dollars to develop this vehicle just for China. The Chrysler brand is in need of fresh product to begin its transition to a CUV based lineup for the future. Additionally, the Dodge Journey is long in the tooth and no longer fits the marketing plan for Dodge. A Chrysler version of the Grand Commander would easily replace the Journey and provide an up to date, that can be built in Belvedere, IL along side the Cherokee (KL). Besides the near production Grand Commanders driving around Detroit, there are still a couple hacked and whacked three row Cherokee mules running around testing powertrain and suspension modules. Without a doubt, the Grand Commander will make an excellent Chrysler here in the US.