Fiat might be looking for another Chinese joint venture partner to manufacture Jeeps, Fiat CEo Sergio Marchionne told Reuters. ”In China we have a good partner, and we have the possibility to use a second one to develop Jeep,” Marchionne said.
Late to the Chinese market, Fiat established a JV with Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), a company that also has JVs with Toyota and Honda.
Chrysler wants to produce over 100,000 new Jeeps in China, :in a move that is key to Fiat’s goal of selling 300,000 vehicles annually in China by next year,” as Reuters says,
Marchionne told Reuters that Chrysler is not currently in talks with a partner for Jeep, but added that “there have been a number of expressions of interest.”
An overseas automaker can pair up with up to two Chinese joint venture partners, but not more. The approval process is long and byzantine, and is far from guaranteed, if Saab, Hummer, and Subaru are an example. If Marchionne wants to produce 100,000 Jeeps in China by next year, then it is much too late to cast about for new joint venture partners, and doing so could slow down a very promising relaunch of Jeep in China, which, frankly, should have been undertaken much earlier.
SUVs are one of the most rapid-growing segments in China, and Jeep is a very strong brand in the Middle Kingdom. Jeep, when owned by AMC, was the first company to start a JV in China. Established in 1984, it actually predated the venerable Volkswagen-SAIC JV by a few months. In the hands of Chrysler, then DaimlerChrysler, then Chrysler again, the Chinese JV deteriorated from neglect. Finally, in 2009. Chrysler pulled out.
Jeep better get its act together in China. “Beijing’s Jeeps look better than Jeep’s” wrote Chinacartimes after looking at BAIC’s brutish B40. Later, the website reported that the “forthcoming Jeep Cherokee really doesn’t seem to do anything for Chinese consumers.”