Fiat and Chinese auto maker Guangzhou Automotive Group agree to build Jeeps in China, the Italian auto maker announces today.

It is the latest step in expanding Jeep’s global presence as the brand increases its focus in the Asia/Pacific region.

Fiat, Guangzhou and Chrysler have an existing partnership to produce and sell Fiat and Chrysler vehicles in China. The joint venture manufactures the Fiat Viaggio and distributes the Fiat 500, Freemont (a rebadged Dodge Journey) and Bravo.

The new Jeep will be built for the Chinese market. Building on their partnership expands potential to build or distribute more Jeep products in the country, officials with the JVsay.

Jeep-brand CEO Mike Manley and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne both hinted an agreement with Guangzhou was near during talks with journalists at the North American International Auto Show this week.

The new Jeep for the Chinese market has not been named, but Marchionne and Manley have stood firm that the American-built Wrangler will remain an import product. Both have said the Jeep Grand Cherokee only will continue to built exclusively in the U.S.  Manley has said he would like to grow the C- and D- segments in China.

The C-segment Jeep Compass has been a popular vehicle in the Chinese market.

“Following the successful launch of the first product of our JV, the Fiat Viaggio launched last September, this agreement is another milestone of our partnership with Fiat and Chrysler Group,” Zeng Qinghong, general manager of Guangzhou Automotive Group, says in a news release.

“It definitely creates the basis for our JV to reach very ambitious objectives in Chinese market.”

afoley@wardsauto.com