2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee - 2013 Detroit Auto Show
Back in October, there was a lot of discussion about Chrysler and news that the company might begin producing Jeeps in China again.
Some pundits screamed bloody murder, fearing that Chrysler's new Italian owner -- Fiat -- planned to shutter Jeep facilities in the U.S. and headquarter the quintessentially American brand on foreign soil.
As we pointed out, however, that wasn't Chrysler's intention at all. (Though in the pundits' defense, the article that broke the news was pretty poorly worded.)
Like most automakers, Chrysler and Fiat have manufacturing facilities around the globe. Those facilities help streamline production and speed delivery of cars to showrooms. Not so long ago, Chrysler manufactured Jeeps for the Chinese market in China itself, but the Great Recession forced Chrysler to shrink its global footprint.
The real gist of the story that broke in October was that American and Chinese auto markets are humming along again. As a result, Jeep has added workers in the U.S., and the brand is looking to relaunch production in China, too.
This week, Jeep's Chinese production deal has been made official. Chrysler and Fiat announced an extension of their partnership with Guangzhou Automobile Group, which will lead to the production of Chinese-bound Jeeps in China. The companies' joint venture, GAC Fiat Automobiles, already produces the Fiat Viaggio in China and distributes a handful of other Fiat models throughout the country.
Mike Manley, Fiat's Chief Operating Officer for the Asia Pacific region and the CEO of Jeep, had this to say: "2012 was a fruitful year for us. In China, we’ve gained very positive feedback about the Fiat Viaggio. At the same time, Jeep Brand set an all-time sales record both in China and worldwide, which we are proud of.... The expansion of the agreement with our GAC partners will allow us to unleash the potential of both our Fiat and Chrysler Group brands in China."
A timeline for the production of Chinese Jeeps by GAC FIat Automobiles wasn't announced, but the Chrysler press release uses the phrase "in the coming years". We'll keep you posted.