Jeep is now building more SUVs in China.
Monday, the first Jeep Renegade rolled off the line at Fiat Chrysler’s plant in Guangzhou as the automaker expands its footprint in Asia. It started building the Jeep Cherokee at the same plant in October.
It’s all part of Jeep’s mission to build more SUVs in China so it can compete in the country’s SUV market.
FCA Chief Sergio Marchionne called the day an “important step in our strategy to expand the Jeep brand’s global presence and, equally important, it represents a further strengthening of the joint enterprise with our respected and valuable partner here in China, the GAC Group.”
Meanwhile, Automotive News reports that Marchionne still won’t give up ideas of a merger with someone. Anyone at this point after being rebuffed numerous times by General Motors last year.
“What [FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne] envisaged with the “Confessions of a Capital Junkie’ a year ago is unchanged and still actual,” FCA Chairman John Elkann said on the sidelines of the company annual general meeting in Amsterdam. According to Automotive News, he was referring to Marchionne’s 2015 presentation on the auto industry’s penchant for burning through capital.
Last week, according to Bloomberg, Marchionne himself rekindled merger talk while at the Amsterdam meeting. He told reporters he now sees Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen Group and Ford Motor Co. as remaining merger candidates. Ford has already followed GM’s footsteps with a big no.
FCA, as a whole, has some kinks to work out that don’t make it so attractive to other automakers. It’s fallen behind its competitors in the electric and autonomous driving arenas. Plus, last year it paid record fines over its failure to report and handle recalls in a timely manner.
In terms of sales, the news is better. Sales of Jeeps are booming in the U.S. and Bloomberg says the Jeep’s popularity helped FCA generate $1 billion in free crash flow last year.