Even with Cherokee setbacks, Jeep manages record global sales image

Despite the painfully long delays in launching production of the new Cherokee model, sales of Chrysler’s Jeep brand products hit an all-time global sales record for the second year in a row.

Jeep, the cornerstone of Fiat/Chrysler chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne plans to remake the Italian-American automaker, delivered 731,565 vehicles across the globe, beating the previous record of 701,626 established in 2012.

“Jeep vehicles have now recorded sales increases both globally and in the U.S. market for four consecutive years, with back-to-back global sales records,” said Mike Manley, President and CEO – Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC.

During 2013, Jeep vehicle sales increased 4% globally versus 2012. Demand was up a modest 3% in the U.S., but gained a much more substantial 26% in the Asia-Pacific region. In China – the world’s largest automobile market – Jeep sales grew 29% last year, a figure especially significant considering the brand doesn’t have a manufacturing presence in the booming Asian nation.

Jeep, ironically, was the first Western brand to produce vehicles in China but it lost that operations to its former German partner following the break-up of the ill-fated DaimlerChrysler AG. Chrysler is now negotiating Jeep’s return to China, though company officials have declined to speculate on when a deal might be completed. Such a move would, among other things, eliminate import duties that hurt Jeep’s competitive position in the Chinese market.