Chrysler-Fiat is looking to expand its Jeep brand into the Chinese market and we’ve already seen what a JK will probably end up looking like there. However, there is a rumor that there will be more than just JKs imported to the People’s Republic. Will the Cherokee, Renegade, and Compass be built there as well, and why would they?
Let’s face it, the largest growing market for vehicles is China. With the population booming, the economy not totally in a tailspin, and people gaining more economic freedoms despite still being in a communist state, the new middle class in China wants cars. Chrysler-Fiat wants those people to own Jeeps, and a big way to increase that demand without raising costs is to build in China. There is a heavy import tax on products not made there, so building models locally will mean less pain in the consumer’s pocketbook.
As far as what will be produced there, that’s currently speculation … speculation that was reinforced when Jeep CEO Mike Manley said the Cherokee and Renegade are “ideal” for the Chinese market. For the Cherokee, that makes sense when you consider the XJ platform was built for China until 2005 — a full four years after U.S. sales ended in 2001. That leaves the Compass, and since it is already being imported and sold in China, it only makes sense that it gets produced there as I mentioned above about the import tax.
Don’t worry, we’ll still see our American-made Jeeps for some time, but expect the Renegade to carry a “Construído no Brasil” (Built in Brazil) tag.