Fiat-Chrysler’s production of Jeeps in Russia may start in 2013, according to CEO Sergio Marchionne. He spoke to Italian news agencies during an event held by ACEA, the European automakers association, in Brussels last Tuesday. He said that he hopes Jeep production would start by 2013 in one of two Russian plants.
These remarks were confirmed by a Fiat spokesman but no further details were given. Sources told Automotive News Europe that a memorandum of understanding was signed by Fiat and Russian state bank Sberbank to form a new joint-venture that will make and sell Jeep-branded cars in Russia.
For this joint venture, a new 120,000-capacity plant will rise at a location, which may be near St. Petersburg. This factory will produce the Jeep Liberty/Cherokee replacement, which is slated to debut in the U.S. in early 2013. The source said that before the new plant opens, the Grand Cherokee will be built on a contract manufacturing basis from semi-knockdown kits in a Moscow plant owned by truckmaker Zavod Imeni Likhachova (ZIL).
Last year, Jeep sales in Russia increased by 159% to 2,093 units in a passenger car and light commercial vehicle market that has grown by 39% to 2.65 million units, according to the Association of European Businesses (AEB).
Russian sales are expected to grow to 3.2 million units by 2013, according to analysts. Marchionne seeks to increase sales in fast-growing economies to offset the losses incurred in Europe. Ford, Volkswagen and General Motors inked agreements with Russian partners in 2011 for the expansion of its production in the country.
With 4x4 engineering tradition spanning at least 70 years, the Jeep Wrangler, with its well-known four-wheel drive, remains to have off-road capability that is unparalleled. Even today, the Wrangler still has that body-on-frame design, electronic lockers, live axles, and a five-link suspension system on the front and the rear.
For the new Jeep Wrangler, it will not only have a new powertrain but the brand will be giving customers the option to choose between a manual 6-speed transmission and an automatic 5-speed gearbox. One highlight in the new Jeep Wrangler is that there are additional gear ratios on the axle. This allows customers to optimize the capability of their vehicles or the fuel economy.
Depending on the model, the model will offer ratios of 3.21, 3.73, or 4.10. Towing capability meanwhile can go as high as 2,500 kg. As mentioned, the Jeep Wrangler continues to have the body-on-frame design and because of this, the sound and ride quality are optimized. The addition of the new motor and the new transmission plus the improved suspension calibrations allow for better improvements overall.
This can be experienced whether driving on the highway or running off-road. The brand retuned the shocks as well and thus allows for an optimum balance between the rugged off-road capability and the hi-tech on-road handling. While on the outside, the noise of the engine is barely heard when idle. The reason for this is that all accessories have been mounted to the new 3.6-liter V6 engine direct without the need to use any accessory brackets.
These accessories include, among others, the air conditioning compressor, alternator, and power steering pump. By directly mounting them on the engine, they are not only fitted in perfectly, but are less prone to vibration and with it less noise.
The mounting system done for the powertrain and the addition of noise damping on the model’s firewall enhance the sound quality of the interior. Helping as well is how the engine cover is able to separate the Jeep Wrangler’s cabin from the noises coming from the engine and even the road surfaces.