FCA launches Jeep as luxury SUV brand in India

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(Photo: Jim Frenak – FPI Studios / Jeep)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Tuesday launched Jeep in India, as the company continues to expand the American SUV brand’s global footprint.

The company plans to open 10 distribution locations in nine Indian cities by year’s end, according to FCA India President and Managing Director Kevin Flynn. The showrooms, including one already-established location, will initially offer the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, Jeep Grand Cherokee and the high-performance Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT models.

“Our intent is to set up our dealer and service network that will have longevity and robustness,” Flynn said during a press conference that was posted on social media. “We recognize that India gives us an enormous opportunity to tap the growing SUV market.”

Flynn said the three products being imported are “just the beginning,” as the company plans to launch localized production in India next year with a previously-announced premium SUV at its manufacturing facility in Ranjangaon, India.

The automaker hasn’t announced what vehicles 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.

The launch and upcoming production follow Fiat Chrysler announcement last year of a $280 million investment in Fiat India Automobiles Private Limited, the joint manufacturing venture it runs with Tata Motors Limited.

Jeep, Flynn said, will be touted in India as “capability through the lens of luxury.” The brand launched Tuesday with the tagline, “There’s only one Jeep” and the social media hashtag #JeepNowInIndia.

“Jeep outlines our commitment to India for the future,” Flynn said. “We’re excited about launching Jeep in India.”

Pricing for the initial vehicles will range from more than 7 million Indian Rubees ($100,000) for a Wrangler Unlimited to more than 11.2 million Indian Rubees ($167,000) for a Grand Cherokee SRT. Both are substantially more expensive than in the U.S., where the Cherokee SRT starts at $66,000.

Jeep arrives 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.

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

By Michael Wayland Courtesy The Detroit News

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