Jeep Cherokee, FCA GACChina – Marking the start of local production at GAC Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (GAC FCA), the first SUV rolled off the assembly line at the Changsha plant. The milestone vehicle featured a 2.4-litre engine and will soon be followed by a 2.0-litre model. Full production is due in November, with deliveries beginning by the end of the year.

“The Jeep brand was the first western automaker to produce vehicles in China more than 30 years ago,” commented Mike Manley, head of Jeep Brand and Ram Brand, FCA – Global and COO of the APAC region. “Today, with the support of our GAC partners, our brand is back to its rightful place in this market.” He noted that the Jeep Cherokee is being produced for the local market in accordance with “the world quality standards that Chinese consumers demand”. The company also confirmed that its Jeep production line-up in China will increase to three models by the end of 2016, including the Jeep Renegade.

General manager of the GAC Group, Zeng Qinghong, said, “Along with the localisation of the Jeep brand and the introduction of Chrysler models in the future, our brand combination and product portfolio will further raise our business, and lead to a balanced and diversified development with Western partners of the GAC Group to expand our industrial distribution, deepening the implementation of our ‘3+e’ strategy.”

He remarked that localisation of the Jeep Cherokee has “shifted GAC FAC’s simple trade model toward production, manufacturing, sales and aftersales on the entire value chain, and will ultimately move the formation of research and development, manufacturing and sales to a complete and comprehensive automobile supply chain model.”

GAC FCA Changsha, in Hunan province, covers 750,000 sq.m and required an investment of 5 billion yuan ($787m). It is described by FCA as “one of the most technologically advanced manufacturing plants” in its global production network.