It’s not yet known when Chrysler Group will start production of a Jeep Wrangler Dragon Concept vehicle, which was unveiled at the Beijing auto show last week and is specifically designed for the Chinese market. Talks with the company’s Chinese partner, Guangzhou Automobile Group, are ongoing over the plan to localize production of the Jeep brand. Within a few months, Chrysler's joint venture will start production of a Chrysler model at a plant in the central China province of Hunan. This plant is expected to have an annual capacity of over 200,000 units. Mike Manley, Chrysler's COO for the Asia region and CEO of the Jeep brand, said that there would have to be extra capacity if they would add Jeep models.
He said that the site still has room for expansion. Manley had been vocal about his desire to produce Jeep models in China as soon as possible. However, Chrysler wants to be sure that it shares a "common collective vision" of the brand with Guangzhou before production begins in China. It is notable that Chrysler didn’t apply to build Jeep models in China. Manley said that automakers required the government’s permission to produce a model, a process that takes some time.
The models that Chrysler currently sells in China are the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, Compass and Patriot in China. All of these are imported. With regards to the future models, Manley said that a B-segment Jeep would perform very well in China “in an ideal world.” In 2011, Jeep sold 22,294 units in China. It has 110 dealers in the country and it hopes to have 150 by the end of the year. Sales in China's SUV segment have increased by about 46% each year in the past five years. He also said that this accounts for over 15% of passenger vehicle sales in China. The Jeep brand has been a fixture in China for many years and has gotten a loyal group of enthusiasts. [source: Autonews]