DETROIT – The service and parts brand of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Mopar, which turns 80 this year, is in full expansion mode in Latin America and elsewhere to support the growth of Jeep.
Mopar, which started modestly in 1937 by selling antifreeze, had earlier announced that as part of its anniversary celebrations it would produce several special edition versions of existing FCA brand vehicles, as well as come out with new products.
In an interview with EFE at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mopar head Pietro Gorlier did not reveal which models would have a Mopar edition or what new products would appear, but he said every month of 2017 would bring a new surprise.
Gorlier told EFE that Mopar was in expansion mode in Latin America to support the growth of Jeep, a process that follows the opening in 2015 in Brazil of the first assembly plant for FCA’s off-road brand in that region.
“When it comes to Latin America for instance, where we are seeing the big expansion of our Jeep brand ... we are working with our dealers to be sure that we have the right dealers, with the right processes, able to support this large number of new customers,” Gorlier said.
The Italian-born executive added that Mopar was simultaneously investing in Latin America to modernize its installations, build a new large parts distribution center in Sao Paulo and develop specific parts for local markets.
“We also recognize the need for local products, so this is why we’ve created a Latin America-based engineering team to develop performance parts and accessories, to analyze new products, to bring them to market,” Gorlier said.
A portion of that investment program includes the opening in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco of Mopar’s first custom vehicle shop in Latin America.
“We opened our first custom shop near the Jeep plant in Pernambuco, where we can customize Compass and Renegade as soon as they come out of the plant,” Gorlier said.
The new facility seeks to replicate one of Mopar’s biggest success stories in the United States.
“This is a replica of the model that we have in North America, very effective. We process more than 300,000 cars in North America. We expect to grow also pretty quickly in Latin America with this custom shop,” the executive said.
Without providing specific figures, Gorlier said Mopar was “definitely” a profitable business unit but that the brand was not only important because of the revenue it represented for FCA.
“If you have a good service experience you’re going to be back,” he said, adding that studies show that customers who spend time personalizing their vehicles become more loyal to the brand.
“And by the way, customization is still among the top five reasons why one chooses a car,” Gorlier said.