Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is showing some serious interest towards the Indian market, they will be scaling up their existing operations in the country. This will not come as a total surprise as Fiat has opened almost 100 new showrooms across the country. This, however, is not the end of it; Fiat plans to take on a front-foot approach using its Jeep brand in coming years. The Jeep brand was supposed to make its India debut in 2013 itself, but a weak rupee and hostile market conditions made them push it back with till atleast the 2015 when the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee are speculated to be introduced. Now with the general elections coming to an end and the rupee recovering a little, these expansion plans seem credible. It was assumed that the Cherokee and Wrangler shall be the flag bearers for Jeep in India but it seems there has been a change of heart because of a recent survey that the company undertook.
We had previously reported that how the compact SUV Renegade shall not be coming to Indian shores, but it seems a recent survey done by the company took into account the success of Nissan, Renault and Ford. Their success in the compact SUV market has prompted a change of plans, as the Fiat has decided to not only launch the Renegade (or something similar) but also a larger C-SUV. These compact SUVs will be made the core part of the brand in India, while the Wrangler and Cherokee remain aspirational products. With SUV markets set to expand by 2018, Jeep is making some calculated moves with plans to launch these products with attractive pricing.
The larger’ C-SUV’ is estimated to cost between Rs 13 to 20 Lakhs. This is speculated to be a little larger than the present Duster in size and is expected to make an appearance at the 2016 Indian Auto Expo. Technically speaking power is expected to be between 105 and 120 BHP from a 1.5-litre Fiat Multijet diesel engine (a downsized version the international 1.6-litre block) for the 2WD model. A 4WD version will be offered too and is expected to employ a larger, 2.0-litre Multijet engine that will give an output of 168 BHP. The ‘B-SUV’ will be slightly smaller in length at 4.25 metres, priced between Rs. 10 Lakhs to 16 Lakhs and powered by the 1.5 litre Multijet engine. Both the vehicles will be derived from the Renegade.
We can expect both the vehicles to be in showrooms by late 2016. FCA has some pretty strong expansion plans which also include making India the global manufacturing hub for right hand-drive C-SUV models. Though India does seem to hold the key – at least on papers- as Nagesh Basavanhalli, President and MD Fiat Chrysler Automobiles India, had in an earlier interview stated, it will take some real groundwork to convince those jilted Fiat fans to keep their chequebooks ready on account of Jeeps’ delayed launch.