Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV plans to start selling the Jeep brand in India by the middle of this year.
Jeep, which opened a plant in China, the world’s largest vehicle market just year, said it will expand to India with a line-up of three SUVs made in the United States, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the high performance Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Jeep introduced the at the 2016 Auto Expo in New Delhi.
“Our aggressive expansion in international markets is one of the key drivers behind our current global sales momentum,” said Mike Manley, head of Jeep Brand, FCA, and chief operating officer of the Asia Pacific Regional Operations Group.
“Last year, we started local production in Brazil and China, and today, we are launching the Jeep brand in the fifth-largest market in the world, India, setting the foundation for our future growth in this country.”
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The Jeep brand arrives in India at a time of record sales and continued expansion into markets outside its North American home. India’s auto market grew 9.8% in 2015: it’s highest total in five years.
Jeep recorded sales of more than 1.2 million units worldwide in 2015, the highest total in its 75-year history, setting a global sales record for the fourth consecutive year.
Helping to lead that charge is the newly introduced Renegade, which is assembled in Italy and ultimately may make sense for India down the road. After announcing those record-setting sales figures, FCA is now aiming to sell more than 2 million Jeeps globally by 2018, an increase from its prior target of 1.9 million.
Fiat Chrysler announced last year its intent to invest approximately $280 million in its manufacturing joint venture, Fiat India Automobiles Private Limited, with Tata Motors Limited. The investment in the manufacturing facility in Ranjangaon, India, will support the manufacture of a new Jeep vehicle and is expected to begin production in 2017.
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“Jeep has been one of the most awaited SUV brands in India and it is entering this important market the same year that it celebrates its 75th anniversary. The SUV segment witnessed a robust growth of 22% over the last five years in India and we expect it to grow exponentially in the future, creating the perfect environment for the legendary Jeep brand,” said Kevin Flynn, president and managing director, FCA India Automobiles Pvt. Ltd.
Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Grand Cherokee will be sold with diesel and petrol engines through a network of dealers located in key metro cities.
India, long considered one of the world’s most tantalizing markets by global automakers because of its rapidly expanding middle class, which rivals in size that of China. However, the growth has been inhibited by a poor road network, which has left major cities such as choked with pollution and traffic.
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Another school of thought has suggested that India may never develop a broad-based caste of car owners but instead come to rely on ride-sharing services to boost mobility.