A few months after announcing a massive $4 billion investment in its Brazilian business, Fiat Chrysler has opened a new design center in Betim, Minas Gerais, Brazil which they say will work on products for all of FCA’s brands, including Jeep and Ram.
The new complex, considered the largest automotive design studio in Latin America at massive 2700 square meters, cost 11.4 million Brazilian Reals according to a press release from August 12th. The new center, which is an expansion of a facility that was known as the Fiat Style Center of Brazil when it opened in 2002, will include a user experience (UX) laboratory with simulators designed to assist with testing user interaction with infotainment and other systems under under simulated driving conditions.
Peter Fassbender, the center’s director, emphasized the multi-brand nature of the facility, explaining that it will be involved in developing Jeep and Ram products for Latin American markets. As of now, the main Ram product designed specifically for Latin America is the Ram 700, a Fiat Strada-based front-wheel-drive pickup that is sold as far north as Mexico. A mid-sized Ram pickup that has been planned for the Latin American and, unlike the little 700, will be coming to America is also in the works. Whether its styling will be a product of the new center in Betim remains to be seen. On the Jeep front, I don’t believe there are any Latin American market-specific vehicles as of yet, but the announcement of this facility does suggest more market-specific products are on the way for Jeep as well.