Vehicle manufacturer Fiat-Chrysler announced that it would begin making the Jeep American brand in China from 2015 in response to demand in the country.
Fiat-Chrysler, which came to be when Italy’s Fiat bought Chrysler of the US, will manufacture three Jeep sport utility vehicle models in the world’s largest car market, with one of the designs being tailored for Chinese buyers, the company said in a statement.
The announcement came prior to the Beijing car show, which will open to the public on Monday, as global vehicle manufacturers converge in China to exhibit their latest products, according to The Economic Times.
The statement said the Chinese buyers access Jeeps only as imports and that the company sold 60,000 such vehicles in China last year, making the Asian market the largest for its brand outside of the US.
Fiat-Chrysler will make the Jeep SUVs as per an existing partnership with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., but at a new factory in the southern city Guangzhou, the statement added.
Plans to manufacture Jeeps in China triggered a political controversy during the 2012 US presidential election campaign, after Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate, ran an advertisement onslaught suggesting the move was tantamount to exporting American jobs.
However, Fiat has in the past denied the claims, saying plans to build the Jeep in China were growth as opposed to transfer of operations.
Fiat-Chrysler and GAC already make other vehicles such as the Viaggio Sedan at a site in Changsha. Figures from an industry group showed GAC to be the 6th largest local car maker by sales in 2013.
“Today’s announcement represents the next chapter in the proper utilization and expansion on a global scale of the Jeep brand. Equally important is our continued development in the Chinese market with an established and respected partner such as Guangzhou Automobile Group,” Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne is quoted by Bloomberg as saying. To contact the reporter of the story: Yashu Gola at firstname.lastname@example.org
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