Jeep is ready to start importing in India and will register its first sales from next month with the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee being the first models to be launched in the country.
In a recent statement, Jeep Chief Executive, Mike Manley conveyed that the American automaker will be commencing operations in the country from February onwards. The iconic manufacturer synonymous with SUVs will be entering the domestic market with the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee models before introducing other offerings. According to Manley, sales will be low for some time and will reach 1500-2000 units by 2017. That said, sales will commence by June this year while the automaker will also showcase its products at the 2016 Auto Expo.
Jeep stated that it needs to set up a chain of dealerships in India to ensure the brand’s success. Till then, operations will be carried out by the existing Fiat dealerships across all the major cities in the country. The main issue according to the company will be establishing the brand while it has a benefit that Indians are aware of the name Jeep. In fact, most SUVs are often referred as Jeep across the country with Mahindra having made the term popular over the past decades.
Indian buyers have always been fascinated by SUVs and hence, a number of low-cost offerings are available in the country. However, Jeep states that the first year is reserved for showing people what a real SUV is by displaying its capabilities. All the products from Jeep will be placed in the premium SUV segment, where luxury automakers Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Volvo will be major competitors.
Jeep further stated that the promising Indian auto industry will not be much of a help to the SUV brand as the real growth happens to be in segments way lower in terms of pricing, where the company does not have any presence. The manufacturer registered global sales of 1.24 million units in 2015 with a 22 percent hike over last year. It was the fifth consecutive year which saw a growth in the company’s sales. The Fiat Chrysler group has done a very good job with Jeep especially in the US where the brand sold 8.65 lakh units last year.