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Chrysler 2012 Jeep sales topped 700,000 worldwide for first time

DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC's Jeep brand sold more than 700,000 vehicles worldwide for the first time in 2012, an increase of 19 percent from the previous year, Chrysler said on Wednesday.

Mike Manley, head of the Jeep brand, said he expects 2013 sales to continue to climb as upgraded versions of Jeep's biggest seller Grand Cherokee, as well as a new midsize Jeep SUV, are introduced.

Jeep's 2012 sales of 701,626 topped the previous global high sales mark of 675,494 set in 1999.

Among Chrysler's four main brands, Jeep is the one that has the most global reach.

The Grand Cherokee full-sized SUV, the compact SUV Compass, and the Wrangler, are the three nameplates of Jeep that are most aggressively marketed outside Jeep's North American base.

Sales of the Grand Cherokee rose 26 percent at 223,196 worldwide. Compass sales rose 20 percent at 103,321, and Wrangler sales rose 16 percent at 194,142.

Sales in Asia in 2012 rose 94 percent, were up 29 percent in Europe and up 18 percent in Latin America. Jeep's sales were up 13 percent in the United States at 474,131.

The new midsize Jeep SUV will replace the Jeep Liberty in the brand's lineup.

In the United States, Chrysler's top-selling brand last year was Dodge, which sold 825,917 vehicles, up 16.5 percent.

Chrysler Group is majority-owned by Italy's Fiat SpA .

(Reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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