AUBURN HILLS, MI – Jeep President and CEO Mike Manley outlines the brand’s growth ambitions and the return of the Grand Wagoneer large SUV in 2018.

During a business-plan review here today, Manley says the global utility vehicle market is projected to grow 6% from 14 million units in 2013 to 18 million in 2018. The largest increase in that timeframe, 9%, is expected to occur in the Asia-Pacific region.

Demand for large utility vehicles is projected to expand 78% by 2018 in Asia-Pacific and North America, while small utility vehicle demand is expected to jump 84% in Asia-Pacific and other global regions.

To keep pace with the projected demand, Manley says parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will expand the Jeep product line by adding the three-row Grand Wagoneer and a small SUV in 2016 to replace the Jeep Patriot and Compass.

Additionally, Jeep’s global manufacturing footprint will flourish in the coming years. Manley says the brand has been limited to production in North America, requiring exports to other regions.

“We’re restricted in the fastest-growing markets in the world because of import duties and tariffs,” he says. “We’re a niche player in China because we’re import-only. By 2018, the Jeep manufacturing footprint will be dramatically different.”

Jeep production will expand from just one country to six, Manley says, noting, “This opens up key markets around the world.”

To support Jeep growth plans, the brand’s global dealer network will grow from 4,706 showrooms today to 6,023 in 2018.

The production and dealer expansion will better position Jeep to leverage the expected growing global demand for utility vehicles, Manley says.

“We said we would focus on Jeep as a global Chrysler brand, and we have a clear and consistent vision,” he says. “We have aspirations to taking Jeep back to the No.1 SUV brand in the world.”

bpope@wardsauto.com