“I absolutely want to see a resolution (of the agreement with Guangzhou) in the first quarter,” Manley said.
With new vehicle sales expected to exceed 21 million in China this year, Jeep needs to re-establish itself in the world’s largest car market.
Manley said Jeep should sell more than 800,000 vehicles worldwide this year, up from a record 731,000 in 2013.
“China remains such a huge opportunity for us,” Manley said. “Jeep has been the fastest growing brand in China ... but we are still a niche player.”
Sales of the new Jeep Cherokee are meeting or exceeding Chrysler’s expectations as dealers sold more than 25,000 in November and December. The Cherokee launch was delayed by about two months because of transmission issues.
Now, Chrysler is shipping some Cherokees from Toledo to China. The vehicle should go on sale in Europe by June.
The Cherokee also is part of an expansion that will include the revival of the Grand Wagoneer as a large SUV, a compact Jeep SUV to be made in Italy starting this year and one new model to replace the Patriot and Compass compact SUVs.
The subcompact Jeep could go on sale in the U.S. before the end of this year, Manley said.
Together, Manley hopes the new models will boost Jeep above 1 million in annual global sales.
Distributed by MCT Information Services.