The departing gift Daimler gave to Chrysler Corporation was the premium platform that has underpinned the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango since the 2011 model year. That architecture has served those vehicles well, but it's time for new bones.

At the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles investor conference in Italy last Friday, Motor Authority asked company CEO Sergio Marchionne for clarification on what will underpin the next Grand Cherokee, and he confirmed it will be the platform used for the Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUV, as well as the Giulia sedan.

"It started originally off the Alfa architecture, which has now been modified and extended to reach both a two-row and a three-row Grand Cherokee," Marchionne said, noting that the platform has been adapted to reflect the requirements of Jeep.

Jeep 2022 roadmap

Jeep 2022 roadmap

Timing for the next-generation Grand Cherokee hasn't been announced, but Marchionne said the work for the platform at least has already been done. That could mean the next-generation vehicle will arrive sooner rather than later, perhaps in 2019 or 2020 instead of toward the end of Jeep's five-year plan.

Marchionne's comments may have also let another secret slip. The Jeep 2022 roadmap lists a next-gen Jeep Grand Cherokee as well as a three-row E-segment (mid-size) SUV. Based on Marchionne's comments, it appears that the three-row vehicle will be called Grand Cherokee as well.

From the product plan, we also know that the Grand Cherokee will be the first of the company's products to offer Level 2 self-driving capability. It may arrive in 2020, and it may be on this generation platform or the next. It should be able to brake, accelerate, steer, and change lanes on long highway drives, much like the Cadillac Super Cruise system. Level 3 self-driving technology will arrive by the end of 2021.

We're just reading the tea leaves, but it would make the most sense to add those technologies to the next-generation vehicle, so the timing could be 2020 either as a 2020 or 2021 model year vehicle.

The product plan also shows that the next Grand Cherokee will offer a plug-in hybrid powertrain, though Jeep didn't provide detailed information on that system.