MILAN -- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will offer more vehicles tailored to China and speed up electrification to relaunch the group in the world’s largest car market.
Alfa Romeo will add two long-wheelbase vehicles to its lineup by 2022, while Jeep will add more Chinese-specific SUVs such as the Grand Commander, a seven-seater launched in April and developed in China off the Jeep Cherokee.
Jeep brand head Mike Manley said the Jeep range will include two China-specific vehicles by 2022. One additional nameplate will be locally produced, Manley said at a presentation of the 2018-22 FCA business plan on June 1.
In the first four months, sales of locally produced Jeeps totaled 48,432 units, down 30 percent from the same period of 2017.
CEO Sergio Marchionne said during the business plan presentation that FCA has made mistakes in its China strategy, especially with the Jeep brand. “Jeep is somehow perceived as an exotic brand in China,” he said, adding, “China is more difficult to solve for Jeep than Europe.”
Jeep is now going to be marketed in China more as an “urban brand” than the traditional rugged U.S. off-roader. “If we manage to do that, I think Jeep can become a legitimate top-tier brand in China,” Marchionne said.
FCA has a 50-50 joint venture in China with Guangzhou Automobile Group, which currently produces four Jeep models — Renegade, Compass, Cherokee and Grand Commander — in plants in Changsha and Guangzhou.
FCA’s China presence will remain based on three of its core brands: Jeep, Maserati and Alfa Romeo. Production of Fiat sedans by the joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile stopped last year, and FCA has no intention to revive it.
“To speak about significant volumes in (NAFTA countries or) Asia-Pacific for Fiat would be a waste of time” Marchionne said.