TURIN – Jeep is reversing its marketing strategy for the Avenger and will now offer a gasoline variant of the small SUV in all of Europe’s largest markets, adding sales of the gasoline version in Germany, France and the U.K.
Stellantis’s offroad brand unveiled its smallest model in October at the Paris auto show as a full-electric model. At that time, the automaker planned to sell a gasoline variant only in Italy and Spain, where EV sales are slower than in northern Europe.
When sales of the Avenger started in April, Jeep also added the gasoline version in Poland, where the model is built in Stellantis’s plant in Tychy, southwest of Warsaw.
Jeep decided in June to open orders for the gasoline variant in France and Germany after noticing that brokers were offering ICE models at a premium price in these markets. The brand will also start sales of the gasoline Avenger in the U.K. this month.
The decision to expand sales of the gasoline Avenger was "pragmatic" and does not change the brand's long-term plan to sell only electric models in Europe by 2030, Jeep's Europe CEO, Eric Laforge, told Automotive News Europe.
The move protects Jeep's franchised dealers who were losing potential sales, Laforge said. It also protects customers who will need their gasoline Avengers servicing, he said.
Balancing EV and ICE offerings
Stellantis is not the only mass-market brand struggling to find a good balance in European markets for all-electric and combustion engine models.
During a recent roundtable interview, Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda praised battery-electric cars but said a lot of the world is not ready to make the switch to full electrification.
“When we look worldwide, there are about 1 billion people who will be among our customer base that do not have enough charging infrastructure in place. Therefore, if we say that BEVs are the only option that we should pursue, what will happen to these people who do not have enough infrastructure?” Toyoda said.
DAILY NEWSLETTER: Sign up and get the top news of the day in Europe every business weekday.
In comments echoing this, Laforge said charging infrastructure varied in Europe’s major markets, which had led to the automaker choosing to initially launch the ICE version in southern European countries.
One gasoline trim
Laforge said Jeep is offering just one trim level – the Altitude – for the 1.2-liter gasoline Avenger. This has the same price across Europe (before local taxes) to disincentivize cross-border sales.
In Germany, the gasoline Avenger starts at 27,000 euros, 10,000 euros below the entry-level electric model. The Altitude trim electric variant costs 42,000 euros in Germany.
In Italy, the gasoline Avenger comes in three trim levels, with four offered for the electric model.
“We are offering limited batches of gasoline Avengers in France, Germany and the U.K. and I expect them to account for few thousand units in the full year,” Laforge said.
Jeep said that the share of gasoline models sold through May at 87 percent is misleading as in April it was available only in three countries, Italy and Spain where the gasoline was available, and France where it was not yet. Sales in Germany opened in June and in U.K. in July.
Jeep will export electric Avengers to Morocco, Turkey, Japan and South Korea later this year. Sales in the U.S. and China are not planned.
From January to May, Jeep sold 7,214 Avengers in Europe, according to Dataforce. Of these 6,252 were gasoline versions and 962 were full electric. Around three quarters of Avenger sales are in Italy.
EV share is falling
Jeep had forecast that the market share of all-electric models in Europe's small SUV segment would increase this year. On the contrary, the share of battery-electric small SUVs from all brands fell to 2 percent through May. Last year their share was 3 percent.
The share of full-electric models in the small SUV sector was 4.5 percent in the first five months compared with 4.8 percent for the full-year 2022, according to an ANE analysis of sales by segment based on Dataforce figures.
Overall sales in the segment increased by 17 percent to 867,017 units through May, with demand for battery-electric SUVs up 9.2 percent.
The Hyundai Kona was the best-selling model in the segment, with 12,976 units sold, ahead of the other two Stellantis models, the Peugeot 2008 (10,070) and the Opel Mokka (9,619). China’s MG ZS ranked fourth with 5,396 units, ahead of the Avenger at 962, according to Dataforce figures.
Jeep aveva inizialmente deciso di vendere la Avenger in Germania, Francia e Regno Unito solo nella variante elettrica. Adesso hanno cambiato idea e venderanno anche il benzina a 3 cilindri 1.2. I segni che ci sia una stanchezza nel mercato delle elettriche stanno aumentando.