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MiscellaneousChrysler Group's Marketing Chief Discusses Less Capable Jeeps
Posted by mike on 2004/1/9 0:00:00 (667) reads

Do you want a Jeep that can't run the Rubicon? Chrysler Group is betting you do...

AutomotiveNews.com recently ran a story in which Chrysler Group Marketing Chief Joe Eberhardt discusses extending the Jeep Brand with a "less-capable" Jeep. Here's a snippet:

Existing Jeep vehicles will retain historic off-road prowess. But there is room at the bottom and top end of the lineup for a new generation of less capable Jeeps, said Joe Eberhardt, the Chrysler group's marketing chief.

"We have been looking for ways to extend the brand," Eberhardt said at the show on Monday. "There is room for vehicles that can stretch the brand without losing Jeep's original identity. The vehicles have to be capable. But not to the extreme the Wrangler or the Grand Cherokee are today."

Two vehicles are likely to pioneer Jeep's move into less-rugged territory: an entry-level SUV and an entry larger than the Grand Cherokee.

...snip...

In 2002, Jeep introduced the Jeep Compass concept vehicle, a small, entry-level SUV. On Sunday, Jeep showed the Jeep Rescue concept, a truck the size of an H2 Hummer.

Historically, Jeep vehicles are capable of traversing the Rubicon Trail, an off-road route in California, Eberhardt said. But the new generation of Jeeps will not be required to meet that rigorous standard.

"We have said that being able to do the Rubicon is what makes a Jeep," Eberhardt said. "But does every Jeep have to be Rubicon capable? A lot of people don't know you can't do the Rubicon trail in a Hummer. Does that make the Hummer not an off-road vehicle?"

Be sure to check out the entire article.

Toledo Blade Covers the Debut of the Wrangler Unlimited

The hometown newspaper of the main Jeep assembly plant recently published an article about the stretched Wrangler Unlimited. Here's a snippet:

With 1,500 more pounds of towing capability, 2 added inches of backseat legroom, and 13 more inches of cargo space, the "stretch" version of the Toledo-made Jeep Wrangler is finally here.

The Wrangler Unlimited, dubbed a 20041/2 because it will be widely available in April, roughly halfway through the model year, will make its true public debut today during media previews of the North American International Auto Show in downtown Detroit. (Jeep dealers, industry analysts, The Blade, and other select news outlets have been shown the Unlimited, but photos were not allowed to be released until today.)

Check out the entire article.

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Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Gary
Not all of Jeeps past models were Rubicon ready. The old Grand Wagoneer and the Jeepster were not hard core off road vehicles let alone 2wd Cherokees and GCs. This Rubicon thing only started when Lutz mentioned it in a press conference back in the 90's. If the Wrangler were on the way out why are they expanding the line by building the Unlimited? Building something like the Compass can also help the brand. Young people buying a "Compass" will be more likely to buy a GC later. That is what happen to Saturn. GM was never able to get 1st time buyers of Saturn's in the 90's to buy another GM product when it came time to move up. They went to Honda and Toyota. If some young person buys a "less capable" Toyota, Honda or Nissan and it is reliable do you think they are going to buy a "Rubicon Ready" Jeep. Doubt it, they will look at 4Runner or Pathfinder. If they make real money maybe a Lexus or Land Rover.

Jeep can build "less capable" vehicles and keep the Jeep brand intact. What will hurt Jeep worse than "less capable" vehicles is poor quality and reliability. This is what DC needs work on more than anything. I owned a 1988 Cherokee that had 225,000 miles when I gave it to a family member 3 years ago who is still using it as second vehicle. I needed a larger truck to tow my car trailer. Since Jeep had no full sized vehicle I bought a Ram. By far the most unreliable vehicle I have ever owned. The only thing I will consider buying from DC is if they make a full size Jeep. They already lost my last car purchase because of the unreliable Ram. I personally would love to see "Hummer" type vehicle like the RESCUE. Either that or I will trade my Ram in on a Suburban.

Would a Rescue or a Compass make a Wrangler any less a Jeep? Does a Cheyenne make a 911 any less a Porsche? No. I say Jeep go ahead and build them just screw them together right.

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: mjjohn
here is my comment
whynot!
I think we all agree on expanding the jeep line. It's been a long time since they had a full product line, but little by little we lost one product after another and the faithful stuck to the brand. But I think marketing is getting it all wrong with a softer Jeep. There is no reason why they can't expand, and stay true to their heritage. They build cars that go 200mph and have little purpose on a 70mph highway. It's not a bad thing to do, but even talking about less capable Jeeps is just plane sutpid PR

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: why not?
mjohn
99 was the most profitable year for jeep dealers ever...because the rest of the manufacturers jumped on the suv bandwagon jeep was left in the dust because they didn't expand their line to offer new products for the growing number of people in the general public now buying suvs. it is NOT possible for jeep to continue on the downward path carrying only 3 vehicles, they MUST expand. yes they NEED to keep the rubicon ready line but they have to come up with a line for the people who love jeeps and NEED a larger suv and a truck would be to their benefit also but that doesn't seem to be on the horizon. the grand will change somewhat this fall, no 3rd seat as of yet and as much as i love the rescue...don't hold your breath. dc isn't particularly faithful to their jeep concepts becoming a reality. dc continues to produce and push more products for the dodge line than jeep and that will probably continue for the next few years. it's all in their plans to have all of the dealers be combined into a dodge/chrysler/jeep store. therefore the few jeep dealers left in the country will have to fall to dc's wishes and sell to the combined dealer in their town. so to make a long story longer dc could care less about jeep because their long range plan is to have the 3 lines together therefore with a combined profit they at the headquartes are happy! jeep supporters unite and tell dc how you feel....

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: mjjohn
here is my comment When the WJ came out in 99 it was titled THE MOST CAPABLE JEEP EVER BUILT , and DCX had a very profitable run with it. Cherokee one of the longest running vehicles
in history, so why change the game plan? Do what you do best, and forget about the rest!

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: MalcomXJ
I really don't mind expanding the offerings to include road-centric vehicles (and I lump the Liberty in this category). It's logical that they'd want to expand into areas in which they can exploit the Jeep brand: trucks, larger-capacity vehicles (though I certainly would never get near a H2-sized truck), luxury SUV's on par with Range Rover (upmarket from even the Grand).

The fear I have is that they're preparing to dump the HALO vehicles like the Wrangler. Actually, it's not a fear as much as a certainty. With the loss of the Cherokee, a simple utilitarian truck with an engine and suspension that could take some abuse, I could almost hear the clock ticking. With the dismissal of the famed Rubicon-ready test and it's replacement with a marketing scheme it was apparent (to me, anyway) that there was an incremental move towards dilution of lineup.

I'd be perfectly happy if there was some assurance that at least one offroad platform was to be maintained in the lineup but realistically I don't think that's the plan.

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: why not?
if you guys expect jeep to be around in the future, the dealers have to have more to sell than the 3 products they currently have. 10 years ago there was no competition, look at the number of suvs on the market today....a bunch!
trail rated is fine for the current line up but they HAVE to have more to offer the general public than trail rated. i've driven jeeps for 12 years solid now and they are great but i envy the bigger suvs and the higher end suvs available in the other lines. jeep needs to broaden their market share because for the past 2-3 years all it's done is dwindle away. all of you hard core jeeps fans are awesome BUT to keep the business growing jeep has got to expand to the general public, UNLESS all of the trail rated, back to basics jeep fans think that the jeep that they buy new every 2-3 years is going to keep the dealers in business, then DREAM ON!
jeep is an american tradition and to keep it alive is the biggest challenge that dc hands on their hands right now.

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: rjstutzman
One area that JEEP has let go, that needs to come back is the Pick-up line. I'm tired Of seeing Brand Y or Z Trucks towing Jeeps(with xtreme gears)to a far away event or Jeep Owners buying other Brands of trucks, so that they can run a business, tow a camper, or a large boat. I own 2 Jeeps, and have many others in the family. I want a full-size truck to tow with, and a mid-size to play with, (both 4x4) they must have large engine (4.0L I-6 being the smallest),
Man or auto trans. I Do Not need all the Gadgets and whistles, I want a good Stereo w/CD and Basic interior.

JDS 96 xj and 02 tj

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Carl
Actually HA
... Land Rover, atleast in the United States, pulled the hardcode Defender from it's product line.

Which is a shame, it's the one I liked the best (as i'm sure most Land Rover fans would agree). But realistically they were doing such low volume... they just decided it wasn't worth it.

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Wayne
To me the introduction of the "Trail Rated" campaign is nothing but a not so subtle marketing gimmick to ease the public into the idea of DCX building a LESS capable Jeep. If some Jeeps can be badged "Trail Rated" then others, like the future GC w/IFS, the Full Size "Family" Jeep, the Compass, and the awful Treo simply don't have to be "Trail Rated". If Jeep is supposed to mean you can "Go Anywhere, Do Anything" why bother with "Trail Rated" at all unless you plan to make somthing that isn't.

Seems like half of DC's management wants to preserve the brand and throw some bones at the hardcore jeepers to prove that point while the other half wants to compete with Ford and Honda at the Shopping Mall. They can't have it both ways without diluting the brand...

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: ScramblerKen
Now what bugs me about the article is not long ago, in USA today, we saw:

Bernhard and Chrysler chief designer Trevor Creed know they must update and revolutionize Chrysler and Dodge designs to be competitive again. But the two also understand that Jeep "must stay a Jeep," Creed says. "Jeeps ought not to be styled at all."

see: http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2003-11-16-jeep_x.htm

(You can find a discussion on this in Mike's archives).


In the USA article, it sounded like DC management was trying to keep Jeep in the off-road realm. Now were back to having 'cars' in the Jeep line. What is going on with DC management?

I agree Jeep needs to expand, but keep Jeep making Jeeps, not mini-vans and cars. There is plenty of room for Jeep to expand and maintain the Jeep phylosophy without making non Jeeps. Jeep is not just SUVs, but they definetly are not mini-vans either.

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Wellington P Funk
I think you guys are missing a large, slow change that's going on in Jeep. Up until the late 80's, Jeep was owned by AMC (remember the Eagle?). AMC was a very small American company that never, ever could compete with the Big Three. So, by the 80's, AMC was losing money out its ass, and their only profitable line was Jeep. Of course, Jeep was still comparatively a very small company at that time, and they weren't producing nearly the number of vehicles they put out now. So trying to keep Jeep the same "loyal", "hardcore", "traditional" company it was in the 80's just isn't feasible. They've gone from being the largest brand in a tiny, unprofitable company to being the smallest in a huge, larely profitable super corporation.

Honestly, this is the first time ever that the Jeep brand has had the funds and opportunity to expand their market share, so of course they're going to try some new markets. Back in the 80's and up through most of the 90's, they couldn't afford to do anything other than 4x4's with the same 4.0L six and solid axles under all three models. Now they've got money, facilities, R&D, designers, every luxury they never had at AMC. It would be stupid for them to stay in the same niche they've occupied for the last 20 years.

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: MalcomXJ
The lack of the Defender in the States is largely due to Federal regulations, and the high cost of accomodating them. They can still be had new via gray-market, but are prohibitively expensive for all but the very rich. There has been talk of a new version of the Defender 90 being redesigned and offered, though.

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: hacr
I think that Jeep introducing new 'less-capable' vehicles is a step in the right direction. In order to keep profitable and stay in business they need to broaden their range. Look @ Porsche for example, the money that the Cayenne makes will allow them to keep developing thier 911 models, and the people that say the Cayenne will 'dilute' the brand are usually just haters that cant afford to buy a 911 anyways... screw em! Landrover is another example, they have the ultra luxury RangeRover, the midrange Discovery, entry level Freelander... and hardcore Defender. I think that Jeep should follow that pattern with thier range of vehicles as well. Unless you are a true poser, you buy a vehicle for "it's" capabilites... not for what the rest of that brand can do. So if you 1987 cherokee owners ever stop complaining and buy a new Wrangler, it should be because it's a Wrangler... not because all Jeeps are Rubicon capable!

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Wyatt
here is my comment

I don't mind Jeep making a large SUV. I wouldn't buy one but plenty of people will and that will help Jeep. Besides, not everyone wants to haul their family in a minivan.

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: rich
Why would you "envy" large SUV's? I just don't get it! Then buy another brand, Hummer, Expidition, etc..With all the intense "backlash" against huge suvs why would someone need to jump
on one? A Grand Wagoneer isn't large enough? I like the Rescue, but not its size!
Also, isn't "Jeep..Making a LESS CAPABLE vehicle!"
a great sales slogan!

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Matt
I would welcome an expansion of the Jeep line in the upward direction. I think the comment about the Hummer is a sign that Jeep is going to put out a full size again. The Grand Wagoneer was a capable vehicle in it's own right, but nobody would take it over the Rubicon. I think Jeep has to abandon the notion that ALL Jeeps have to be able to do the Rubicon because it limits them size-wise. I am on my third Jeep now. I started with a '91 Wrangler when I was single, and first married. I moved up to a '95 Cherokee when my wife was expecting our first child. We now have two kids and a '01 Grand Cherokee. Before you think I'm some mall hopper, I do a LOT of hunting, fishing and off-roading. I love Jeeps because they are tough and capable. I pull a lot of lesser vehicles out of the sand when I am fishing the beach. But I am limited by a 5 passenger vehicle. A lot of you guys don't seem to be thinking about the future. If Jeeps are only for single guys, with no families (you don't care if it's comfortable), where is the NEXT GENERATION of off-roaders going to come from? I take my girls hunting, fishing, and off-roading, and I am instilling a love for the outdoors and Jeeps in them. I would love to be able to take their friends with us, or my two nephews, but we only have one spare seatbelt in a five-passenger GC. If Jeep made a Tahoe or Suburban size vehicle, I would buy one in a second. I may have to defect to Chevy for my next vehicle if they don't offer a full-size. Just because you have a family does not mean you want a minivan. The outdoor sports are under increasing pressure from the liberal media. We shouldn't hunt, fish, or drive in the woods as far as they are concerned. If we are to counter this, we have to get our kids, and their friends interested in the outdoors. This requires enough seats in your Jeep! Jeep, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make a full size vehicle!

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: BILL
Its on The Jeep Rescue Concept posted 1/4/04.Just click thru the photo gallery.Indeed it does look like third row seating.Thanks for the tip Ive been waiting for a full size Jeep also!Sold!!!!

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Jason
I think DC is too smart to dump their hard core Jeep lovers.Lets face it Jeep IS a Wrangler or CJ.I really wouldnt worry about that too much.In fact I feel DC is trying to assure die hard off roaders that they will still make trail worthy Jeeps.Thats to me what this new trail rated designation stuff is all about.Its about drawing a clear line between Rubicon ready and just a capable four wheel drive.They dont wont to loose their strong customer base but still need to pull in new customers to compete.As Ive said before I own a Wrangler,Grand Cherokee,Grand Wagoneer and two J trucks . I love them all and they each have their purpose.But now that the families growning we are running out of room in both Grands and my wife nor I would be caught dead in a mini van(no offense to any mini van owners here).My wife drive our Grand Cherokee to work every day 15 miles one way and winters here can be hard .Why would I want to chance her safety on the roads to anything other than a Jeep?We need a third row seat a it really doesnt have to be Rubicon ready because a vehicle that size would useless on trails anyway.But that doesnt mean I dont want Jeeps advanced four wheel drive.Plus that keeps the money here at Jeep for future generation of Jeepers.When Im ready to go hardcore off roading I jump into my wrangler but I cant say Ive seen alot of Grands out hard coring unless their older.To be honest with you I cant afford to take a $38,000.00 vehicle out a bust it up.So mine go off road but nothing hard core.But to get back to the topic I feel DC is trying to expand both side of the line with these new offerins and concepts.Now Im not saying your going to see the Rescue as shown but I do think your going to see some version.And lets not forget that great new Unlimited with some hints of a Scrambler.This stuff is great news.And I was hopefull when I read the new larger Jeep will be made on a Ram frame.Sounds like a good chance for a Jeep truck to me.But as someone earlier said I hope its not too late.These additions to the line are needed but their over due.One more thing did anyone look at that one picture of the inside of the Rescues back seats?I not sure what link on here it was but I swear it looked like back seats folded flat into the floor with a small bench seat about the size of a wrangler back seat that sat back almost against the rear hatch.It almost had to be a third seat because the front seats arent going to fold into the floor and the back seats arent going to be back against the hatch in that size of vehicle.Did anyone else see that?Lookin for feedback.

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Martianjeeper
Did you Martian's? Now that we have made it to Mars there is a whole planet ready for Jeeps. And looking at the surface there will be a real need for Trail Rated Jeeps!
Yea!

Poster Thread
Anonymous
Posted: 1969/12/31 19:00  Updated: 1969/12/31 19:00
 Originally posted by: Bowser
That first article makes sense considering that Jeep is one of the most popular vehicles in the world today. Not only that, but Jeep has not sold more than three models at a time in over 20(?) years. Plus, all of these vehicles have been off-road doable: the CJs, YJ, TJ, Cherokee, Grand Wagoneer, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, etc.

Wow, that is just simply amazing. And when I say one of the most popular vehicles in the world I really mean the most popular. Okay, point taken, Jeep has sold really well in the past. Think about it, Jeeps are everywhere today and a lot of them are older vehicles. So why make less-capable Jeeps? Why change something THAT IS GOOD for the company? Where do these guys think they're expanding the Jeep line to? Honda owners? Martians?
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