Liberty Sales Off to a Brisk Start, Durability Testing

Date 2001/6/4 0:00:00 | Topic: Liberty

Customer anticipation for the 2002 Jeep Liberty as led to some promising early sales numbers for latest member of the Jeep family...

``Dealers report the all-new Jeep® Liberty is going out of the showroom as fast as it is coming in,'' said Gary Dilts, Senior Vice President -- Sales. ``Liberty is bringing in additional traffic and it is a younger, more knowledgeable shopper.'' Dilts added that dealers have ordered more than 50,000 Jeep Liberty models.

Liberty production is ahead of schedule, said Dilts, currently at a rate of 700 units per day.

Here's a look at the sales number for all Jeep models for May, 2001:

                                     Month Sales   DR %    Sales CYTD     DR %
    Model                          Curr     Pr   Change   Curr      Pr  Change
                                    Yr      Yr             Yr       Yr
    Wrangler                       8372    9881   -15%   28942    38119  -24%
    Cherokee                       8752   13060   -33%   51979    60904  -15%
    Liberty                        1602       0     -     1602        -    -
    Grand Cherokee                15503   24926   -38%   90718   111434  -19%
    JEEP BRAND                    34229   47867   -28%  173241   210457  -18%

Also in Jeep Liberty news (is there any other kind of news these days?), DaimlerChrysler is reporting that the Liberty has logged over 2,000,000 miles during its testing. Here's a snippet from the press release:

By the time Liberty reaches dealerships early this summer, engineers will have logged more than 2,000,000 actual test miles. The Jeep Liberty will have passed durability, development and reliability testing more severe than its customers will ever put their vehicles through, even before the first Jeep Liberty leaves the showroom.

Beginning early in 1999, the first prototypes of Liberty's engines and transmissions were proven out in durability testing using dynomometers. Engines and transmissions were then put into Grand Cherokee bodies, called "mule vehicles," to begin in-vehicle testing. These tests included severe acceleration and deceleration exercises and trailer tow testing with maximum trailer and cargo loading, under both extreme heat and altitude conditions as well as tests on the famed Rubicon Trail in California. European-style testing focused on extended periods of high-speed driving. For those markets, trailer tow testing was done with lighter weight trailers at higher speeds, consistent with customer use in international markets.

"Liberty was tested using Jeep-specific durability cycles to ensure that it is rugged, tough and durable," said Jack Broomall, Director, Jeep Vehicle Development, DaimlerChrysler Corporation. "In addition, we have quite a number of market-specific tests that we run to ensure these vehicles meet the requirements of all of our customers around the world."

Taking it to the Extreme
Liberty's body and chassis also must pass the rigors of Jeep durability testing. Liberty vehicles underwent extreme body torsion and suspension articulation in tests such as "AK3." AK3 is derived from the original test used to qualify Jeep vehicles for military use at the Aberdeen, Maryland, Proving Grounds, and includes 15,000 off-highway miles. Durability cycles using gravel roads ensure body surfaces have been properly protected from stone impingement. To ensure Liberty has excellent corrosion resistance, vehicles were driven through salt-water troughs and then baked for extended periods of time.

Engineers also conducted a series of development tests to ensure that the vehicle is rugged enough for all environments. Engineers took Liberty to the extreme heat of Death Valley, the high altitude of Pikes Peak, the humidity of Corpus Christi, Texas, and the frigid cold and snow of Fairbanks, Alaska, to validate all components and systems. Jeep Liberty's hallmark off-road capability was proven on challenging off-highway trails including the Rubicon. High vented axles and waterproofed underbody connections were used to ensure Liberty passed Jeep's water fording tests, conducted through more than 20 inches of water. Car wash testing was done to ensure that water from the high-pressure wash did not intrude into the passenger compartment. Engineers even went out in the middle of the night, with Liberty's camouflage removed, to conduct lighting, water intrusion and wind noise testing under the cover of darkness.

"The rugged and durable qualities of the all-new Jeep Liberty benefit on-road customers, as well as our off-road enthusiasts, encountering daily obstacles such as pot-holes, flooded underpasses and inclement weather conditions," said Broomall. "The whole idea is to make sure that every component and system functions properly, and does so for the life of the vehicle."

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