By Drew Johnson
Friday, Dec 7th, 2012 @ 10:03 am
 

Jeep is heading to India. As part of Fiat's plan to make inroads in Asia's third-largest car market, the Italian automaker, which controls Jeep parent Chrysler, will launch the off-road brand in India during the third quarter of 2013.

Fiat will sell Jeep vehicles through 32 dealers in 25 Indian cities. Jeep will launch in India with two global models - likely the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee - but is also planning two other vehicles unique to the Indian market.

Jeep is confident that it will be able to steal sales away from India's own Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra.

"Our goal is to reach 5 percent market share in the foreseeable future," Mike Manley, Chrysler's President and Chief Executive Officer for the Jeep brand told Reuters.

"We will bring out new products and try to reach that goal. Asia Pacific is the biggest growth market for us," he said.

Jeep could be instrumental in helping Fiat crack the Indian market. Although Fiat first began selling vehicles in India during the 1950s, it has never secured a solid foothold. During the April to September fiscal period, Fiat sold just 4,717 vehicles in India, accounting for 0.4 percent of the market.

Jeep's 4x4 lineup promises to boost Fiat's market share. Thanks to government subsidies on diesel fuel, utility vehicle sales have increased by 55.8 percent this year, compared to a 0.3 percent decrease for passenger cars.