Economic Times today published an article that could possibly be the best news for 4×4 fans (the ‘rich’ ones though, if I may add) in India yet. They report that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has kickstarted its plans to manufacture a ‘premium SUV’ under the Jeep brand in India and export it to ‘key’ markets including the UK, Australia and South Africa in the next two years.
This would be a part of the INR 1,500-2,500 crore investment that Fiat plans to make towards its operations in India. Now, most of our readers would remember that we had told you in May this year about Fiat Chrysler’s local manufacturing plans. We had also talked about the company’s renewed interest in the Renegade, which, according to Autocar India (back in May), would cost INR 10 lakh if produced in India.
Anyway, the company’s official plans, which it had shared back in 2012, had no mention of the Renegade, but they did have a B-SUV and C-SUV under the 2017 year column (in the Powerpoint presentation). Now, according to ET’s report, the ‘development work’ on that C-SUV has already been initiated and the vehicle has been codenamed ‘M6’ or ‘556’.
The production will begin by the end of 2016 and it should hit the showrooms in the beginning of 2017. ET’s source also tells them that the vehicle will be priced between INR 20-25 lakh and that it will be produced in “tens of thousands”.
That kind of volumes at that kind of price can only mean that Fiat India has one vehicle squarely in sight – the Toyota Fortuner. The most likely candidate in Jeep’s stable to take on the Toyota, and in that price range, would be the Cherokee (not Grand Cherokee). Moreover, its pricing could drop down further alarmingly (for its competitors) if the percentage of localisation is more!
Jeep’s 4×4 prowess is second to none while the company has continually bettered its products’ on-road performance and comfort as well. One look at the price list of Jeep vehicles abroad will tell you that they are competitive indeed, and Indian manufacturing will therefore certainly be humbling a lot of ridiculously priced CBUs and a few glorified MPVs…