The first American automobile built as a joint venture in China could soon be built at a China joint venture again. Fiat plans to bring Jeep production back to the Middle Kingdom, Bloomberg says.
Mike Manley, COO of Fiat and Chrysler in Asia told Bloomberg that Fiat is in “very detailed conversations” with its joint venture partner Guangzhou Automobile (GAC). Manley is currently evaluating whether his company should “be localizing the entire Jeep portfolio or some of the Jeep portfolio.”
Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Manley referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.
Despite being imported at high prices from America, Jeep sales in China have more than doubled to 33,463 this year through September. The brand topped total deliveries for all of 2011 by July of this year.
The Jeep Cherokee XJ was the first joint venture car in China. In 1985, the first kit-built Cherokees rolled down the line in the new factory in Beijing. When Chrysler bought AMC, it became the new owner of the 50 percent share of the Beijing-Jeep joint venture. In 2009, Chrysler abandoned the Beijing-Jeep joint venture. The Cherokee lived on as the BAW Qishi S12. It still is in active duty at the Chinese army.