Jeep's Manley: SUV Production in China by End of 2014
Cherokee "Obvious Choice," Confident of Official Approval Soon
Speaking to Reuters at the 2013 Shanghai auto show, Jeep global CEO Mike Manley said one of the brand's major goals is to start Jeep production in China by the end of 2014. The vehicle will most likely be the 2014 Cherokee, and the production site will be the Fiat/Guangzhou Auto joint-venture plant in Changsha, in China's Hunan province.
Jeep models currently sold in China have a stiff price premium, being imported from the U.S., as well as being taxed for their larger-displacement engines relative to the norm of the Chinese market. Jeep sales in China rose more than 100-percent in 2012, bringing sales totals to approximately 46,000 vehicles. SUV sales in China were up 10 percent for the first quarter of 2013, signaling a lucrative potential market niche for Jeep. The most popular Jeep models in China last year were the compact Patriot and Compass.
Chinese production of the Cherokee will not affect Cherokee production in Toledo, from where all North American Cherokee models will be sourced. Global Jeep sales topped 700,000 units for the first time in 2012, and Manley is targeting 800,000 global sales for 2013.