Fiat plans to return Jeep output to China and to manufacture all of its models there in the near future.
Currently, Fiat and its Chinese partner, Guangzhou Automobile Group, are in talks regarding the plan to manufacture Jeeps in China, the world’s largest auto market. Chrysler has built Jeeps in China until 2009 when Fiat took control.
“The volume opportunity for us is very significant. We’re reviewing the opportunities within existing capacity and we are considering whether to localize the entire Jeep portfolio or some of the Jeep portfolio,” said Mike Manley, chief operating officer of Fiat and Chrysler in Asia.
Chrysler, which entered an alliance with Fiat as part of the U.S. government-backed bankruptcy, relies on the Chinese market to make up for the loss in Europe. The company aims at selling 500,000 units annually outside North America by 2014. During the first nine months of the year, Chrysler’s global sales increased 22% to 153,154 units, with the Jeep brand accounting for three of every four of the sales, an increase of 54% to 117,189 units.
“We’ve grown much stronger in Asia to make up or compensate for some of the difficulties in Europe,” Manley said. Europe will be in “very difficult, tough times” through at least 2013, he said.