Jeep breaking out of Indian niche

Jeep had less than a 1% market share in India in 2020. It’s a tough market, partly because a former Willys licensee, Mahindra & Mahindra, makes inexpensive vehicles that look just like today’s (and yesterday’s Jeeps)—and they have every legal right to do so.

Jeep Meridian (Compass based)

Some believe that Jeep’s drive to increase sales is also not helped by its global premium-brand strategy, in a country where most cars are inexpensive. Its Compass-based three-row vehicle, the Jeep Meridian Limited (shown above), is on the high end of the market. The company has, however, invested at least $250 million on local assembly of the Compass, Meridian, and Wrangler at a joint-venture plant with Tata Motors, which produces low-cost cars in India and owns Jaguar/Land Rover. (These vehicles will not be exported to the United States.)

Reviewers have heaped praise on the Meridian for its comfortable ride, off-road capability, looks, and features; they have, however, complained about nonadjustable (fore and aft) middle row and middle/rear row passenger space. The reception for the new Compass and Meridian is favorable enough that Jeep may double its market share—which, while it would not exactly make Jeeps common on the streets of India, would likely make it much more profitable.

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