Chrysler Close to Agreement for Jeep Production in China image

Jeep’s chief Mike Manley said that Chrysler is close to closing a preliminary deal to manufacture Jeep vehicles in China.

“It’s a lot closer, by the way, than the end of the first quarter, ” Manley, president of Jeep brand and head of international operations for Chrysler Group, said at the Detroit auto show. The approval process “is not super complicated but there are things outside of your control. We don’t anticipate any problems getting government approval.”

If the agreement receives the Chinese national and regional government approval, Jeep will be able to begin sales within two years of approval. Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is trying to make Jeep one of the most important global brand for both automakers, by adding Jeep production in Russia, China and Italy.

Currently, Jeep is Chrysler’s best-selling brand globally and the automakers plans to update three models in 2013, part of its plan to surpass the global sales record from last year. Jeep came at the Detroit auto show with the updated versions of the 2014 Grand Cherokee, Patriot and Compass SUVs, which now offer new transmissions and a fuel economy of as much as 30 mpg on highway. In 2012 Jeep sold 701,626 vehicles worldwide, up 19% and 474,131 vehicles in the US, up 68%.