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Jeep is returning to import-only status in China, a setback for Stellantis

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The long, strange saga of Jeep in China — has come to its … well, not its end, exactly … but something close to it.

Michael Dunne, the esteemed expert on the Chinese auto industry, likened it to a Greek tragedy — or comedy.

It strikes me more as a heartbreak story: a pairing that once seemed destined and yet was never meant to be.

The brand that was a pioneer into China — yet missed out on the market’s exponential growth.

For a decade as an American exile brand — imported in small numbers — Jeep was coveted and Grand Cherokees commanded exorbitant prices.

Mike Manley, running Fiat Chrysler’s most valuable brand, slogged through many long trips to Guangzhou to reach a deal with GAC. But in year two after FCA’s merger with PSA Group, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares is moving on.

Jeep, the brightest star in Stellantis’ constellation of brands, is returning to import-only status in the world’s biggest auto market.

It’s a humbling setback for the brand and the company. How did things go wrong?

In a sense, it all goes back to the beginning — and just kept going wrong from there.

“You had high drama, you had mistrust, bad luck, misdealings — the works,” Dunne said of the epic tale of Jeep’s Chinese frustration.

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