Jeep Trounces Land Rover in European Sales & Popularity
Land Rover’s demand dropped by 10% in 2017 while Jeep rose 56%. Is this setting the table for an epic Wrangler-Defender shootout?
Land Rover was launched in 1948. It was a sensation in Europe; a rugged, go-anywhere compact 4×4 that for millions around the world became the face of the British automotive industry. It was also a pretty blatant rip-off of the Willys MB. In the decades since, both brands have built upon their heritage, and today, they’re more popular than ever before. But the two have never really competed. For one, Land Rover has traditionally ruled the roost in Europe, while Jeep’s home market has always been its strongest. Jeeps in Europe seem largely relegated to World War II reenactments, while Land Rover targets luxury-mined urban customers on our side of the pond. But lately, Jeeps are popping up in the Olde World in numbers not seen since 1945. This, understandably, has Land Rover worried.
According to Autocar, Land Rover sold 156,000 vehicles in Europe in 2018, a 10 percent drop in demand compared to 2017. In the same period, Jeep demand skyrocketed 56 percent, selling 166,500 units. Now, there are some caveats here. For one, the bulk of Jeep sales occurred in Italy, which makes sense considering that’s a) Fiat’s home turf, and b) Renegades are assembled there. Also, the bulk of the sales were made up of Renegades and Compasses. While these affordable CUVs make sense on narrow European roads, they aren’t exactly stealing sales away from customers shopping for a loaded Range Rover.
Still, this could spell trouble for Land Rover. On top of recent rumors that parent company Tata is looking to unload Jaguar-Land Rover, losing ground in its strongest markets isn’t a good look. Its lineup is also aging, and while a new Evoque is hitting dealers now and could make up the sales difference here, the all-new Defender is still about a year away, giving the Wrangler that much time to gain ground.
As the European automotive landscape changes, Land Rover is stumbling as interest in diesel engines drop and their older models become a tougher sell. On the other hand, Jeep’s affordable compact crossovers seem to be the right vehicles at the right time. It isn’t the direct Wrangler-Defender sales shootout that many of us would love to see, but if these trends continue, it may not be too far away.