Jeep is aiming to start building a sports utility vehicle, particularly the Jeep Cherokee, in China by the end of 2014 as part of its bid to become more competitive in the world’s largest vehicle market, Mike Manley, chief executive of the Jeep brand said at the Shanghai auto show. Jeep recently rolled out the Cherokee in the United States and plans to commence selling the SUV in China in the fourth quarter of 2013.
According to Manley, the Cherokee is the best choice to be produced in China since the SUV market in the country is growing rapidly and the SUV is fresh in its life cycle. Jeep’s CEO remarked that the Cherokee could be easily adapted for production at a new plant in Changsha, China, owned by the joint venture between Fiat SpA, and Chrysler (50%) and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. (50%).
During the Detroit auto show in January 2013, Manley disclosed that Jeep revealed that it would cooperate with GAC to build a Jeep in China for the local market. However, the joint venture must be first expanded to include Jeep -- in addition to Fiat and Chrysler -- as owners of the non-Chinese 50% stake.
John Burton, chief of GAC-Fiat, recently expressed confidence that the Chinese government will approve the expansion of the joint venture to include Jeep.
According to Manley, there are no plans to build a Jeep model exclusively for the China market. Jeep considers China to be its second-largest market, next to the United States. Manley remarked that they would like to localize the Jeep in China for the Chinese market, but that the resulting vehicle would not be just be targeted for China.