When Toyota found that demand for its Corolla had fallen, the company quickly adopted two strategies: it made a raft of options standard, and it upgraded the car to be more desirable.
Jeep, meanwhile, has been reluctant to react in a normal way to slipping demand for its vehicles as new and old competitors sense blood in the water. When it saw the Bronco debut, Jeep’s main reaction was to make a slightly more capable version of the Rubicon; prices even crept up a little with the 2024 models. The company could have cut its prices or thrown in key options as standard to pre-empt the Bronco’s expansion, but it did neither—and then started “employee pricing for everyone” promotions. Jeep also started reaching out to employees and retirees with attractive lease deals.
A car which has never seen much cash on the hood, the Wrangler, has reportedly been getting quite high rebates—and now the new, revised Grand Cherokee and the continuing Gladiator and Renegade have a “10% off list” sale.
This is a bad look for a premium brand, particularly one which for many years faced almost no real competition. It could be worse, though; the 4xe seems to be exempt. The 2023 Wrangler 4xe has a $399 per month lease deal, which is hardly a bargain basement option. Wranglers are still at full price in some parts of the country despite overstocks—and now hefty rebates.
At least one dealership, facing dozens of unsold Wranglers and Gladiators, has discounts of thousands of dollars on its vehicles—including one with an $11,242 dealer discount, before “person-specific” items like the $500 military discount or recent graduate discount (the “special incentives” in the photo).
There is a remote possibility that FCA US officials don’t really want to keep selling all that many Wranglers and Gladiators, but would like to sell fewer of them at higher profits, since they gulp down fuel and force the company to pay Tesla for fuel-economy credits. The problem is that they haven’t actually cut production, and the ideal time to do that would have been a month ago, not in 2024.
Jeep has gone for decades without heavy discounting on Wranglers; they won award after award for their high residual values, too, making them a safe bet. Many Jeep Wrangler buyers not only got a good deal with a trade-in—they got back most or all of what they had paid. Meanwhile, Magna is busily finishing up their work on Volkswagen’s Scout off-road vehicles and Ford is preparing its next Bronco. At some point, Jeep will need to face the fact of competition—or a possible sales cliff.