Connect to share and comment

China building Jeeps as iconic American brand expands worldwide

Chrysler's Jeep brand expands production to China after sales set record in 2012.

Detroit auto show jeepEnlarge
Detail on the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee as it is introduced at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, January 14, 2013. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Chrysler signed an agreement today with a Chinese automaker to build Jeeps in that country, part of worldwide expansion plans for the iconic American brand.

Fiat – the Italian manufacturer that controls Chrysler – signed the deal with China’s Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) and made the announcement as the Detroit auto show enters its second day, The Free Press reported.

“After localization (of production), the demand for Jeep in China will get even more,” GAC general manager Zeng Qinghong said at Freep.com. “We are very confident about sales growth.”

Fiat also wants to expand the Jeep brand – Chrysler’s most profitable worldwide – into Italy and Russia, Bloomberg reported.

More from GlobalPost: Why Chrysler’s makeover is far from finished

To build on strong sales, the automaker plans to introduce 2014 models with improved fuel efficiency.

According to Bloomberg, Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, Patriot and Compass models will all approach 30 mpg on the highway.

Chrysler sold more than 700,000 Jeeps last year, a 19 percent improvement from 2011.

GAC already produces the Fiat Viaggio in China for the robust Chinese auto market.

Fiat-Chrysler COO Mike Manley said “2012 was a fruitful year for us.”

“In China, we’ve gained very positive feedback about the Fiat Viaggio. At the same time, Jeep brand set an all-time sales record both in China and worldwide, which we are proud of,” he added.

More from GlobalPost: Chrysler recalls 87,000 Jeeps 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business/130115/china-building-jeeps-iconic-american-brand-expands-worldwide