A Chinese auto giant has revealed it is interested in buying Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), sparking rumors that the real prize is Fiat's Jeep brand.
Great Wall Motor is China's biggest SUV and pick-up truck manufacturer and has confirmed it is pursuing all or part of FCA.
"With respect to this case, we currently have an intention to acquire," a statement from Great Wall said on Monday. "We are interested in [FCA]."
FCA responded that it has not been approached by Great Wall Motor in connection with the Jeep brand or any other matter relating to its business.
Jeep, which celebrated its 75th birthday last year, has a reputation that goes back to World War Two, when the rugged vehicles were used extensively by the U.S. military.
Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight, said in several media outlets that Jeep could well be the real target.
"Jeep is the most logical choice, since [Great Wall] wants to be the largest SUV maker in the world.
"The Jeep brand is recognized globally. I think Great Wall Motor is eyeing a global strategy, not just the United States."
In a note published last week, auto analysts at Jefferies said 100 percent ownership of Jeep JV by a Chinese firm "could be attractive".