Fiat and Chrysler announced this weekend that the Jeep brand will enter a partnership to build new Jeeps in China. The cars will be built by Fiat-Chrysler partner Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd., known more specifically as GAC Fiat.
GAC Fiat will open a new manufacturing location in Guangzhou, China, where it will build three Jeep models specifically for Chinese consumption. Although Jeep hasn't specified which models it will build in China, the Cherokee, Wrangler, and Renegade are all strong possibilities. At the 2014 Beijing auto show, Jeep showed special-edition variants of those three vehicles (pictured). Later, GAC Fiat will build a Jeep model that is specific to the Chinese market. It will be tailored to local interests and would not be sold in the U.S. Jeep production in China is slated to begin by late 2015.
GAC Fiat currently builds the Viaggio, a reskinned Dodge Dart, in China, and also sells localized versions of the Fiat 500, Fiat Freemont (aka. Dodge Journey), and Fiat Bravo.
"Today's announcement represents the next chapter in the proper utilization and expansion on a global scale of the Jeep brand," Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a statement. "Equally important is our continued development in the Chinese market with an established and respected partner such as Guangzhou Automobile Group."
The addition of Chinese manufacturing will help Jeep meet its stated goal of increasing global sales to one million units this year. In 2013, Jeep sold 731,000 vehicles globally, of which about 60,000 sales were in China and 490,000 were in the U.S. Those Chinese sales represented a 29 percent growth compared to 2012. Production capacity at the new GAC Fiat plant is expected to be another 60,000 units.