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Jeep deal for China production by end of April

by Bill Cawthon on

Jeep brand CEO Mike Manley says Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will most likely have completed a deal for production of certain Jeep models in China by the end of the month.

According to comments made during a phone interview with Reuters, Manley said he hopes the announcement can be made at the Beijing International Auto show that opens Monday, April 21.

“It will be ideal if I can get the timing right for the Beijing show, but I’m not at the stage to say that definitely,” Manley told Reuters’ Bernie Woodall.

The Jeeps would be built in Hunan Province at the Changsa plant FCA operates in a joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. The plant currently produces the Fiat Viaggio, a clone of the Dodge Dart.

Company officials have not committed to a specific model that would be the first to be produced under the new deal, but there have been indications it would be the the new Cherokee, which shares the CUSW platform with the Dart/Viaggio. The new Renegade would likely be the next model to be added to the line.

About the only Jeep model not on the table for China production is the Wrangler, which FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has promised will be produced only in Toledo.

If all goes well, China production would begin early in the third quarter of 2015.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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