By on October 29, 2013


Remember the Fiat Viaggio, the Dodge Dart clone that was supposed to be the brand’s breakthrough product in China? The compact sedan has missed its sales targets by as much as 60 percent, and now Fiat is hoping that local production of the Jeep Cherokee can help fill some of their plant’s capacity and capitalize on China’s insatiable demand for crossovers.

The Viaggio is currently built at a factory in China, but the vehicle isn’t selling. With only 40,000 units sold this year and 54,000 units projected for 2014, the Viaggio is far off its targets of 100,000 units and 200,000 units for each respective year.

The hope is that production of the Cherokee, which is built on the same architecture as the Viaggio, can be added to help the factory run at capacity. Fiat has traditionally lagged behind bigger players like GM and Volkswagen in China, with the two brands aiming to deliver roughly 3 million cars in China this year, outselling Fiat by a ratio of 15 to 1. Asia accounted for just 4 percent of Fiat’s 3.34 million deliveries through September.

Prevailing wisdom suggests that Fiat is a non-starter in China, with prospects for a mainstream volume brand looking rather grim in an already saturated market. But Jeep is considered to be an aspirational brand with desirable products like the Wrangler, as well as the Cherokee and a forthcoming B-segment crossover that should play well with Chinese consumers.

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10 Comments on “Fiat Hoping To Boost Sagging Chinese Sales With Jeep Production...”

  • avatar

    I can see Wrangler as aspirational, sure. It is sold to enthusiasts in markets where it’s heavily oppressed by taxes (including VAT and “lux”) and other regulations (yielding more taxes). But Cherokee? Perhaps I’m not Chinese enough to understand it.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t get it either. Why not have a Buick instead? Impress your condo garage neighbors.

      • 0 avatar

        Pete, Corey, with the Grand Cherokee costing around 70k USD here, you can bet that Jeep is aspirational. There was the Liberty and Compass too. All over 40k USD. I don’t know for how much they intend to sell the Cherokee in China, but in Brazil, cars the size of a Dart sell at around 35k USD. Some cars in this class get relatively good sales, but they rarely break 4 or 5k sales a month. The meat of the Market is under 20k USD. No chance of the Cherokee selling for that kind of money here. CUVs like CRV, Sportage, and some sort of Hyundai sell for roughly 45k USD. This kind of car rarely breaks 1k sales a month.

        The China market is larger than the Brazilian market 5 or sixfold. But, here or in China, with that kind of pricing, you can bet Jeep is aspirational. They’ll use that to do what they really intend to do which is sell the future Jeep based on the Fiat 500 X. I’ve even heard talk of a Jeep branded Fiat Panda. Now those could sell and it’s what Jeep will sell internationally,

        Nowadays when you travel you rarely see Jeep. In future, they’ll become more common. But they’ll be a diferente animal than what y’all are used to.

        Finally, Pete, the Wrangler. That market is all taken by Mitsubishi in Brazil. Diesels! No gasoline Wrangler is ever gping to sell here. To be honest, I don’t know if they even sell t here anymore since sales were minimal due to lack of adaptation to local needs and perceptions.

        • 0 avatar
          Athos Nobile

          Wrangler has a CRD diesel. Ditto for Grand Cherokee.

          • 0 avatar

            Hola Athos, como le va? Not when they sold in any number. Also, like I said, the segment is wholly owned by Mitsubishi with others playing a bot role. To get any meaningful sales, besides diesel engines, they’d need dealer penetration, better reputation for cost of maintenance, durability, credibility (Chrysler has come and gone from Brazil and changed dealer networks what? 4 or 5 times now?). You have to make a commitment to the Market and so far, in Brazil, Chrysler hasn’t.

  • avatar

    Is the Dart/Viaggio hitting its sales targets anywhere in the world?

  • avatar

    They are going to introduce a hatchback version of the Viaggio in China soon, wish they would do a hatch version of the Dart here too. That should add some additional units. Interestingly, the 2014 Dart SXT uses the exact same 16 inch wheels as pictured with the Viaggio. Hmmm. The Cherokee’s unusual front end styling just might appeal to the Chinese market. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Maybe if they sold it as a Dodge or Chrysler (ala overseas market Neon)… nah… screw that.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey Athos, I know for a fact that some at Fiat Brazil want to do just that. Though the name would be Dodge Dart. It probaby won’t happen as Fiat Brazil has been wanting a car to be competitive in this segment since at least the Tempra (that did have success, success which the Marea and Linea never had).

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    For a new mass production product from an unknown brand, 40,000 is not that bad at all.

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