Fiat have announced that they will launch their iconic SUV brand, Jeep, in India by 2013. Jeep is a brand currently owned by Chrysler which is in turn owned by Fiat. Two models, namely the Jeep Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee will be introduced. Jeep was originally started in the 1940’s to manufacture special compact 4X4’s for the American Army and were extensively used in the second world war. Civilian versions were first introduced in 1945 and became a huge hit due to its iconic looks as well as brilliant off-road performance.
Many companies owned the brand over the years, finally to be owned by Chrysler in 1987. Today it is the largest SUV manufacturer in USA and sold in 140 countries world wide. A total of 7 million vehicles are sold by Jeep across the globe. After the launch of the initial products, Jeep will develop two new smaller SUV’s in the B as well as C SUV segments. These cars will be powered by 1.4-litre FIRE petrol and 1.6 litre Multijet diesel engines from Fiat. The B-segment SUV will be launched in 2015 and the C-segment SUV will be launched in 2016. In India Fiat will be the whole and sole owner of the Jeep brand and will control all the decisions of the brand.
Along with Jeep, Fiat has an ambitious expansion plan for India. The Italian brand will also introduce its legendary tuning brand, Abarth, by 2014 with many affordable performance cars. Also a compact SUV will be launched, which we predict will be the 500X. It will be powered by 1.4 FIRE petrol and 1.3 Multijet diesel engine. So all inclusive 9 new products will be launched from Fiat, Abarth and Jeep brands.
Included in the expansion plan are a number of new showrooms. Fiat will have showrooms in a total of 126 cities across India. They will also have 32 dealers for Jeep across 25 cities. Fiat will concentrate on distribution and customer satisfaction which has been the main issue that Fiat hasn’t been able to get out of the minds of Indian customers. Fiat has also developed a dedicated organization to offer financial services. This will be introduced shortly in the new year.
So Fiat is taking massive steps towards building a stable base here in India. Massive product expansion, along with steps to improve Sales as well as After Sales Services are very fundamental improvements. In spite of having world class products Fiat had only a modest performance in India, but we will wait and watch how the Indian market responds to all these improvements and changes.