FCA will travel in Rubicon next month, to assemble 2-3 new Jeep models from 2021

MUMBAI: FCA India, which has left its mark with Jeep Compass , is bringing the iconic Wrangler Rubicon at the end of March, even while working on the deployment of two or three more Jeep models since its Ranjangaon installation in Pune next year.

Since the launch in July 2017, FCA has sold more than 50,000 units of Jeep Compass in the domestic market, and exported over 17,000 units to key right-hand drive markets globally.

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We have received large reservations for the Rubicon. In fact, we are already exhausted for a few months. We are bringing the iconic car to the country at the end of March, as we see a good market, said the president of FCA India and the managing director, Partha Datta, told PTI in an interview.

In addition to Compass, Wrangler Unlimited is the most successful model for the company, accounting for almost 67 percent of the volume of CBU (fully built or imported unit) here since its launch in August 2016, he said.

The other CBUs sold by the company here are Wrangler and Grand Cherokee.

Rubicon, which will be priced above Rs 72 lakh, will be a BS-VI complaint and will have a Trailhawk engine. The fully automatic Rubicon will also be available in diesel, he said.

FCA has invested USD 280 million (about Rs 2,000 crore) in the country so far and the success of Jeep Compass in the initial years has ensured that it has recovered its entire investment within the first 10 months of launching Compass - a first for any foreign auto brand here, especially for American brands as both GM and Ford have failed miserably twice.

The unbridled success of Compass was mainly due to the low price, starting at Rs 14.95 lakh.

Today, over 50,000 Jeep Compass are plying on Indian roads, while the company has also shipped as many as 17,000 units to around 15 key right-hand drive markets, including Britain, Japan and Australia, among others.

We are very serious with our operations here. We believe that the current volume drop is a bump and we are very sure that it will happen. The headquarters is also very happy with us. We have had great success and we are sure to repeat it here again, said Datta, who has spent more than two decades with the group.

On the need for more models, he said: We fully understand that in order to be more successful we need more models that we could not have until now. Then, starting next year, we will have more than two Jeep models that will be launched from the Ranjangaon Facility.

FCA has seen its volume drop by approximately 30 percent since its 2018 peak, as consumers have been on standby and observation for almost two years due to regulatory changes, and banks and NBFCs have been reluctant to lend.

The national automotive industry, which is mainly driven by the input models as a whole, has seen a volume of 8% so far this year.

Despite this, FCA continues to sell 900-1,000 units per month and also exports approximately the same number of units, Datta added.

We are committed to staying in India for a long time and we are looking at each radio on the wheel to make sure we succeed again and the headquarters is willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars more to build our business here, said Datta, who took over India's operations in September, succeeding Kevin Flynn, he said.

The company has 80 sales and service contact points in 70 cities, of which 12 are smaller contact points called Jeep Connect, he said.