Jeep expanding to India with three SUVs in 2016

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Jeep will continue its global expansion this year by starting to sell three of its sport utility vehicles in India.

The Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV brand said it will begin selling the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, Jeep Grand Cherokee and the high-performance Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT models in the country by mid-year. The announcement was made Wednesday in conjunction with the 2016 Auto Expo in New Delhi.

“Our aggressive expansion in international markets is one of the key drivers behind our current global sales momentum,” said head of Jeep Mike Manley, who also serves as Asia-Pacific region chief operating officer. “Last year, we started local production in Brazil and China, and today, we are launching the Jeep brand in the fifth largest market in the world, India, setting the foundation for our future growth in this country.”

The vehicles will be offered with diesel and gas engines through “a network of dealers located in key metro cities” in India, the company said.

In 2015, Fiat Chrysler announced its intent to invest approximately $280 million in Fiat India Automobiles Private Limited, the joint manufacturing venture it runs with Tata Motors Limited. The investment in the manufacturing facility in Ranjangaon, India, will support the production of a new Jeep vehicle and is expected to begin production in 2017.

The automaker did not announce what vehicle it plans to produce at the new facility, which will be the fourth plant outside of the U.S. for volume production of Jeep vehicles. The others are in Brazil, China and Italy.

Jeep will arrive in India at a time of record sales and continued expansion into markets outside North America. The brand recorded sales of more than 1.2 million units worldwide in 2015, the highest total in its 75-year history, setting a global sales record for the fourth straight year.

Manley told The Detroit News in January that the brand expects to set a global sales record — its fifth straight — this year as it further expands production of Jeeps in key international markets.

The announcement into India comes a week after Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed Jeep plans to sell more than 2 million vehicles by 2018, a 1 million increase from a goal announced in 2014.

Marchionne last week also announced plans for Fiat Chrysler to focus its North American production operations on hot-selling Jeep and Ram Truck models, announcing plans for the company to discontinue production of its U.S.-built Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart sedans.

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