For some, the Jeep brand, and its legendary vehicles, are American icons. But soon, some Jeeps will be built at a Fiat plant in Italy, with about half of the factory's output earmarked for export back to the U.S.
With modern automobile manufacture becoming an increasingly global affair, it's not a surprising move--particularly because Fiat-Chrysler also wants to build some Alfa Romeos on the same Jeep platform, and Alfa's primary market is still in Europe.
American brands aren't as "American" as they used to be, either, with many models manufactured in Mexico or Canada. So perhaps the migration of some of Jeep's SUVs to Italy will slide right under the radar. Or perhaps not...
Jeep's reputation for reliability and longevity is not particularly high thanks to decades of cost-cutting at both the home company and its suppliers, sometimes shoddy quality control, and a willingness of dedicated Jeep fans to deal with their various "quirks." Pairing Jeep's own reputation for fallibility with Fiat's poor American perception might be a recipe for disaster, however.
We'll have until late 2012 to pontificate on the matter, as the first vehicles to roll out of the joint Alfa/Jeep operation won't be on the market until the third or fourth quarter of that year. Let us know what you think about an Italian-built Jeep, built by Fiat, does for your perception of the brand in the comments below.
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