In 2014, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne laid out a bold target: Sell 500,000 Jeeps in China in 2018 as part of the company's grand strategy to globalize its most valuable brand.
Jeep won't make that number this year, and part of the reason, Marchionne says, is that FCA didn't have the brand positioned right in the world's largest auto market.
"I think ... we overestimated the value of the American DNA of Jeep onto the Chinese market," Marchionne told analysts on FCA's quarterly conference call April 26. "And I think that we need to retune that DNA to make sure that it becomes absolutely relevant to the Chinese market. We started that process about six months ago. It needs to be completed."
At the Beijing auto show in April, Jeep unveiled the Grand Commander, a China-built three-row SUV made for the Chinese market.
Marchionne said the Grand Commander "is the first embodiment of the realignment of the portfolio to the Chinese market. There'll be others. And I think that we started well."