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Chrysler announces deal for China Jeep production

by Bill Cawthon on

Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A., Chrysler Group International LLC and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. (GAC Group) have reached an agreement to expand their joint venture partnership to include Jeep brand vehicles for sale in the Chinese market.

By the terms of the agreement announced Saturday in Beijing, GAC Fiat, the group’s joint venture in China, will produce three new Jeep vehicles for the Chinese market. The Chinese government has already approved the expansion and the related projects.

GAC Fiat will finalize its localized production plans, including consideration of a Jeep model uniquely designed for China, and begin production by late 2015. Jeep vehicles will be built at a GAC Fiat manufacturing branch to be established in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong Province. In earlier comments, Jeep CEO Mike Manley had indicated the production site would be the GAC Fiat plant in Changsha in Hunan Province, located to the north of Guangdong.

Guangdong Province is where many of the manufacturing jobs outsourced from the United States went, making it one of the most prosperous of the Chinese provinces.

“Today’s announcement represents the next chapter in the proper utilization and expansion on a global scale of the Jeep brand,” said Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat S.p.A and Chrysler Group LLC. “Equally important is our continued development in the Chinese market with an established and respected partner such as Guangzhou Automobile Group.”

GAC Group Chairman Zhang Fangyou said: “The world-noted SUV brand Jeep being introduced into GAC Fiat will bring the cooperation between GAC and Fiat-Chrysler to a new phase. It will enhance the sustainable development of the JV, and will surely bring premium experiences of driving and services to the Chinese customers.”

Worldwide, China is the second-largest market for Jeep vehicles. Jeeps were last produced in China by Beijing Benz DaimlerChrysler Automotive in 2006.

(Note: The Chinese characters in the illustration translate as “ji” “pu” and “che.” Together they are the Chinese term for “Jeep.”)

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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