American off-road specialist Jeep is planning to start assembly in the South East Asia region within the next few years, and is currently studying various options available.
Carl Smiley, CEO for India & Asia Pacific of the 14-brand Stellantis Group, told reporters that Jeep wants to grow its presence within the region, first by offering CBU (Completely Built Up) imports followed by locally-assembled models when local production is ready.
Due to high import duty on CBU vehicles, local assembly will help lower prices of Jeep products in this region, he said.
“We currently have an assembly plant in Malaysia (which produced Peugeots) as well as in Vietnam which could be utilized,” he said, adding that Thailand is also a strong contender due to the country’s auto assembly prowess. Smiley pointed out that his office is currently located in downtown Bangkok.
Jeep also has a right-hand-drive CKD (Completely Knock Down) production facility in India, with several models being produced, including the Wrangler, Gladiator and Meridien, which is a 7-seat SUV.
Last year Jeep sales in the Asia-Pacific grew by 33 per cent to 47,000 units, with major markets being Australia, Japan and South Korea.
Smiley said for South East Asian markets, Jeep wants to achieve double the market growth during the next few years.
“Whatever rate the market is growing, we want to double that,” he said.
In Thailand the Group has appointed Belfort Automobile (Thailand) Co Ltd as its official distributor, with a total of five showrooms planned within 2023. Belfort is also the distributor for the Peugeot brand in Thailand, and first Jeep showroom could share the same facilities.
At the upcoming Bangkok International Motor Show later this month, Jeep will offer the Wrangler and Gladiator as the first two products for Thai customers.