Chrysler Group LLC’s newly redesigned Jeep Cherokee is the “obvious choice” to become the first Jeep built in China in six years and could double the brand’s sales there, according to Mike Manley, head of the sport-utility line.
Jeep, which became the first western auto brand built in China in 1983, may resume Chinese production by the end of next year at a plant in Changsha, Manley said today in an interview at the Shanghai Auto Show. The Cherokee on display at this show will go on sale in the country at the end of this year as an imported vehicle, he said.
Chrysler, which is controlled by Fiat SpA (F), is eager to expand its Jeep brand in China, where it is already profitable and where sales more than doubled last year to 46,000 units. Jeep has remained so popular in China it spawned a clothing line sold at more than 200 retail stores. That outnumbers Jeep’s 160 auto dealers in China, which Manley said he plans to double in two years.
“Jeep is a premium brand here,” Manley said, noting the high-end Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 sells for $205,000 in China, three times more than it fetches in the U.S. The new Cherokee “could double our volume here.”
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