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Fiat Chrysler to invest $280M in India

by Bill Cawthon on

Fiat Chrysler is going to invest about $280 million in Fiat India Automobiles Private Limited, its joint venture with Tata.  Production  in Ranjangaon should start in the second quarter of 2017.

The plans shown earlier this year call for a new Jeep to be built along with the Jeep Renegade. The Grand Cherokee and Wrangler were supposed to be imported starting this year, but Grand Cherokee now apparently scheduled for March 2016.

FCA Jeep India

The news was released as a delegation led by the Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of the Indian state of Maharashtra, met with Jeep CEO Mike Manley at the Chrysler Tech Center in Auburn Hills.

Chrysler Group created an R&D center in Chennai, India, under Cerberus; they have worked extensively on computer modeling, seat structures, and general engineering support. Some forecast India to be the third largest auto market in the world within five years.

Mahindra Thar

Public plans have called for the Wrangler to be imported starting this year, with the Grand Cherokee and a compact SUV (Compass replacement or Cherokee) entering local production afterwards. India is a somewhat awkward market for Jeep, because, starting in 1949, Mahindra had started making Jeeps under license, and has continued making vehicles that have a very similar appearance to Jeep CJ and Wrangler ever since. (The Mahindra Thar, pictured, is much closer in size to the small CJs than to the Wrangler.)

Renegades will be made in Brazil and China before production starts in India. They are currently made in Italy.

While Chrysler Corporation also entered into deals with India, with licensed designs built by Premier Automobiles starting in 1947 and Dodge trucks (including UK designs) in the 1960s and 1970s, Premier eventually switched to Fiat designs which were better suited to the region. Dodge and Fargo trucks are still on the roads.

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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