Jeep saw its sales surge 55 percent in Japan to 1,868 vehicles in the first three months of 2014, boosting its spot as the best-selling American brand in the country. The brand is on pace to top 8,000 in sales for full year 2014 and 10,000 in 2015, according to Chrysler Group's local operation. Chrysler expects further boost this month when it launches the redesigned Cherokee in Japan, to be followed by the Renegade in 2015.
Although Jeep’s figures seem small, it means already a lot in Japan, where foreign brands only account for around 5 percent of the auto market. As for Jeep, it was able to sell more than other US brands that offer small cars and hybrids like Ford and Chevrolet.
Pontus Haggstrom, chief executive of Fiat Chrysler Japan, remarked that Jeep’s positioning is very clear -- "we do only SUVs and we do them well." Jeep’s feat in Japan underlines one of the aftermath of the partnership and future merger between Chrysler and Fiat.
For instance, thanks partly to Fiat’s help, Jeep will be able to produce once again in China through its joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Likewise, the dealership network for Chrysler and Jeep expanded in Japan when Fiat’s dealers picked up their franchises.
Jeep’s network in Japan now has 63 dealerships, compared with 50 around 18 months ago. Jeep is aiming to have 90 dealerships within two years. Jeep overtook Ford as the best-selling American brand in Japan in 2012.
Ford and Chevrolet sold 1,506 and 328 units, respectively. Jeep is also set to overtake Fiat as Fiat-Chrysler’s top-selling brand in Japan, where it also offers Alfa Romeo, Chrysler and Abarth.