|Jeep enthusiasts in China covet imported brands to upgrade and modify their off-road machines.|
SEMA members who produce accessories for Jeep-brand vehicles take notice: China is awash in Jeeps, and Jeep owners are some of China’s most enthusiastic off-roaders. They are looking for imported brands when it comes to modifying their off-road machines.
Beijing Jeep, the first Sino-foreign automotive joint venture, produced Jeeps in China from 2004 until 2007. The Grand Cherokee was produced until late 2005 and the Jeep Cherokee until 2007. Now, several Jeep models are sold as imports.
There are currently more than 80,000 Jeep SUVs on the road in China, and that number is still growing. J.D. Power and Associates forecasts that from 2010 to 2017, China will import nearly 25,000 Wranglers and more than 13,000 Grand Cherokees, as well as thousands of the Jeep Commander and Compass models.
Domestically produced Jeeps may add to those numbers in a few years. Demand for SUVs is growing fast in China. Italy’s Fiat, which purchased Chrysler, will reportedly produce Jeeps at its joint venture with Guangzhou Auto, starting with the Jeep Compass. No start-of-production date has been announced, but it is likely to be several years off.
As interest in off-roading and customization grows in China, those Jeep owners will demand products made for Jeep models. SEMA members can learn more about this growing market at the SEMA-CIAPE Business Development Conference in Beijing, September 23–26. Participating SEMA members will be paired with relevant Chinese buyers in up to a dozen private, pre-scheduled meetings. One-on-one meetings with potential Chinese partners at this ground-breaking event will allow you to get to know them and the market.
Said the marketing director of a tuner shop in Beijing serving Jeep owners: “The volume is very big. There are lots of needs for Jeep modification in Beijing.”
He said his shop works on suspensions, power enhancements, intakes, and exhaust systems, among other modifications. “Almost everything, you name it.” His shop works on newer imported models and older domestically produced Jeeps, said the marketing director.
The two most popular imported models by volume are the Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. But imported Jeep Compass and Commander models are growing in popularity, said the owner of another Jeep tuner company in Beijing. He is looking for parts for performance modules, lift kits, suspension components and off-road lights, among other items.
Beijing, in northern China, has a large population of Jeep owners because the brand was produced there and because there are rugged mountains just an hour or so outside of the city that are popular for off-roading. The south China province of Guangdong is another hotspot for Jeep modification because of higher income levels and an active tuner culture influenced by nearby Hong Kong.
Guangdong may soon have its own Jeep production site.
SEMA members can start to get ready for that surge in Jeep ownership if they are in Beijing in September.