Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is confident of its China prospects in 2021, as its sales continue to rebound in the world's largest automotive market, said a senior executive at the Italian-US carmaker.
Like many other carmakers in the country, FCA was negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Massimiliano Trantini, chief operating officer of FCA operations in the Asia-Pacific region.
However, with the pandemic controlled in the country, sales have recovered from the second half of the year onwards.
"November is going to be the fifth consecutive increase month over month. If the market is expanding like this, we will have a very positive 2021 for all our models," Trantini said.
Trantini is also president of the company's Chinese joint venture GAC Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which produces and imports models bearing the Jeep marque.
At the 2020 Guangzhou auto show held from Nov 20 to 29, Jeep is showcasing its latest models, ranging from the Wrangler to the Compass.
Trantini said the Chinese people have a passion for SUVs and that creates opportunities for brands like Jeep.
Statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that SUV sales totaled 7.23 million in the first 10 months of the year, overtaking sedans as the largest segment in the country's passenger vehicle market.
Their sales from January to October went up 14.6 percent year-on-year, becoming the only segment that saw double-digit growth in the period.
"People want an SUV because it is bigger than a sedan, and they feel safe. I think there is a shift today. The SUV goes to its real nature, which is using the car off road, enjoying the adventure, enjoying the freedom, and Jeep's DNA comes out," he said.
To better attract tech-savvy Chinese customers, FCA is updating its models with the latest connectivity and digital functions with the help of local Chinese companies like Tencent.
"When we talk about trends, electrification, connectivity and autonomous driving are the main pillars in terms of technology innovation and China is the leader in the world," Trantini said.
He said Tencent's latest connectivity system is already installed in Jeep's new Compass SUV, and that Jeep itself is developing an app for its car owners.
"When you do something exciting with the Compass, you can share how you feel and your experience with your friends, via the app," he said.