Italy's Fiat to re-enter India's jeep market with Cherokee, Wrangler

Tata motors

Announcing its re-entry into the jeep market which is currently dominated by the Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Motors, Fiat India today said it will roll out two models, including the iconic brand Cherokee and Wrangler next year.

The roll out will be part of the Italian auto major's plans to introduce nine products, including new ones and variants, by 2016, Fiat-Chrysler Asia Pacific COO and President and Chief Executive for jeep brand at the Chrysler group Mike Manley said.

Fiat, which currently sells only two car models, Punto and Lenea, has under 0.5 percent market share in the domestic auto market, though it has been one of the oldest foreign brands in India having entered here as early as in the 1950s, first in association with the Mahindras and then with Premier Automobiles.

"Our vision for this market will revolve around a three-pronged strategy. First, introduction of new vehicles that will include the Jeep brand. Second, the expansion of our independent dealers and finally strong marketing initiatives," he said.

Fiat will launch two international Jeep models here next year, and later, two local models. It plans to sell the Jeep through 32 dealers in 25 cities, said Fiat Group Automobiles India managing director Enrico Atanasio.

Fiat and its American unit Chrysler, in which it took a controlling stake in 2009, will launch the Jeep models towards the end of 2013.

This May, Fiat called off its six-year distribution and marketing tie-up with the Tatas after sales underperformed expectations.

Apart from the Fiat and Jeep, Fiat also has plans to launch racing car brand Abarth here in 2013. Jeep vehicles will be distributed at launch in the metros through 25 exclusive outlets utilising the infrastructure created by the Fiat exclusive dealers. The Jeep Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee will be imported as completely-built units and marketed by Fiat, Manley said.

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