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Can Jeep revive Fiat Chrysler’s fortunes in India with ‘made-in-India’ Compass?

The Compass would be the first “made-in-India” Jeep, which would be produced at the company’s plant at Ranjangaon in Maharashtra.

autos Updated: Apr 13, 2017 12:39 IST
Gulshankumar Wankar
Gulshankumar Wankar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jeep Compass,Fiat Chrysler Automobiles,FCA
The Compass would be the first “made-in-India” Jeep, which would be produced at the company’s plant at Ranjangaon in Maharashtra. A lot depends on the Compass for turnaround of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in India.(Jeep India handout)

Jeep unveiled its made-in-India sports utility vehicle (SUV), Compass India, on Wednesday.

Production of the vehicle will start from June, the company said. It, however, did not disclose the price of the model.

The Compass would be the first “made-in-India” Jeep, which would be produced at the company’s plant at Ranjangaon in Maharashtra.

The Compass is the single-most crucial model in India for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Jeep’s owner, said Anil Sharma, analyst, IHS Markit. “The car looks good and even the pricing can be great, not necessarily aggressive. But this all makes no sense till the time Jeep Compass sells well. The Compass would definitely be the make or break model for the FCA in India.”

The move to introduce a locally developed model in the country signals Fiat’s renewed interest in the Indian market, where it has met with little success despite a long association. After having sold its popular models such as Uno and Fiat 1100 or Padmini through a licensing agreement with Premier Automobile Ltd, Fiat set up its Indian subsidiary in 1997. In 2006, it signed an agreement with Tata Motors Ltd to jointly manufacture and sell cars in the country. However, in 2012, it decided to call off the alliance and go solo.

Currently, Fiat India’s line-up includes hatchbacks Punto, Abarth Punto; mid-size sedan Linea, crosshatches Avventura, Abarth Avventura and Fiat Urban Cross, and a Rs 30-lakh sports hatch Abarth 595. Such niche products and the rise of rival models has hit Fiat’s market share in India. The company currently has a miniscule 0.1% share of the Indian market, with sales falling from 712 in March 2016 to 353 in March 2017.

“The export as well as India models of the Jeep Compass will be identical (to the global model) in built and quality. We will export to international right-hand drive markets from India,” FCA India president and MD Kevin Flynn said.

Analysts, however, said that pricing will be the key.

“If FCA manages to price it right, it will be a fortune-maker for them in India,” said Amit Kaushik, managing director at consulting firm Urban Science. He expects the Compass to be priced around Rs 15 lakh.

Sharma of IHS Markit said if it is priced between Rs 15 and Rs 20 lakh, the Compass will attract customers from the Rs 12-15 lakh segment of the Mahindra XUV500, Hyundai Creta, Nissan Terrano, Tata Hexa, and also encourage buyers of BMW X1 and Audi Q3 to settle for a relatively newer badge like the Jeep.

Jeep Compass Factfile
  • ENGINES 1.4-litre Multi-air Petrol | 160hp power | 250 Nm torque2.0-litre EcoDiesel Diesel | 170 hp power | 350Nm torque
  • TRANSMISSION Six-speed manualSeven-speed automatic Dual Dry Clutch Technology (DDCT)
  • A Jeep Active Drive 4 X 4 system automatically stops transmission to rear axle when not required to conserve power and save fuel
  • SAFETY 50+ safety features includingSix airbags standardElectric parking brakeFrequency selective damping Electronic stability controlAnti-lock braking system Dynamic steering torqueHill start assistElectronic brakeforce distribution
  • Production starts in June

According to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, utility vehicles segment grew 29.91% in March, year-on-year, against a 3.85% growth in the passenger car segment during the same period.

First Published: Apr 13, 2017 12:34 IST