Fiat Hoping To Boost Sagging Chinese Sales With Jeep Production

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
fiat hoping to boost sagging chinese sales with jeep production

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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5 of 10 comments
  • AlternateReality AlternateReality on Oct 29, 2013

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

  • Mjz Mjz on Oct 29, 2013

    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.

  • Athos Nobile Athos Nobile on Oct 29, 2013

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

    • Marcelo de Vasconcellos Marcelo de Vasconcellos on Oct 29, 2013

      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).

  • Compaq Deskpro Compaq Deskpro on Oct 31, 2013

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