Jeep Legend Passes, 3,000,000 Cherokees, Liberty Passes Competitors

Date 2001/8/10 0:00:00 | Topic: Liberty

Jeep Legend Passes

From Yahoo! News:

Roy D. Chapin Jr., the former chief executive of American Motors Corp. who spearheaded the acquisition of Jeep, has died of heart failure.

Chapin died Sunday in Nantucket, Mass. He was 85.

Chapin was the former chairman and chief executive officer of American Motors, and the son of Roy D. Chapin, one of the founders of the Hudson Motor Car Co.

Chapin was instrumental in the acquisition of Jeep Corp. from Kaiser Industries in 1970.

``He did two things that were fundamental to (American Motor's) existence,'' said Gerald Meyers, who took over as CEO when Chapin retired in 1977. ``He bought Jeep Corp. and the other thing he did was he was a relationship person. ... He could go to any one of the investment banks and he could come away with money because they had faith in him.''

Meyers said that despite Chapin's fierce defense of his family legacy, he was a ``gentle'' businessman.

``He was not a predator as a business person. When he said 'no' to something - and it wasn't very often - you walked out of the room feeling good about the person who just said 'no' to you,'' Meyers said.

3,000,000 Cherokees

After 18 years on the market, the Jeep Cherokee has recently passed the 3,000,000 vehicle mark. Here's a snippet from The Toledo Blade:

After 18 years of Toledo production, sales of the venerable Jeep Cherokee and its one-time upscale twin will total nearly 3,025,000 when remaining models head off dealership lots in coming weeks.

Sales of the so-called XJ - the Cherokee and the phased-out Jeep Wagoneer model - reached 3,009,714 worldwide in July, and more than 15,000 remain in inventory. The 3 millionth XJ model was sold in June, the same month Toledo Jeep Assembly ended Cherokee production.

Jeep is an icon worldwide, but about 77 percent of XJs, or more than 2.3 million, were sold in the United States, said Marc Henretta, a spokesman for DaimlerChrysler AGís U.S. side.

"Most of the demand was right here in the United States," he said.

The next highest country for XJ buying is Canada, with 148,218, or 5 percent, according to numbers released by the Chrysler unit this week.

The sports utility vehicleís best year worldwide was in 1996 when sales reached 222,277, nearly four times as many as originally hoped. Its best U.S. sales year was with 165,261 nationwide in 1999, 16 years after its debut.

About 95 percent of XJs were made at the Toledo Jeep Assembly Plant.

Liberty Passes Competitors

The Toledo Blade is reporting that the Jeep Liberty trounced its 4 nearest competitors for the month of July. The Ford Escape, the Chevy Blazer, the Honda CRV, and the Toyota RAV4 all trailed the new Liberty. Here's a snippet:

The all-new Toledo-built Jeepís July sales nationwide soared past those of four key competitors and topped the number posted by its predecessor for the month last year, according to U.S. sales figures released by automakers yesterday.

DaimlerChrysler AGís U.S. unit sold 10,562 Libertys nationwide last month, a 24 percent increase from June, even as the automakerís overall monthly numbers fell 3 percent to 185,598.

Although Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., posted a 6 percent increase in July sales nationwide, other major automakers suffered.

Among Liberty competitors, the Ford Escape sold 9,878 compact sport-utility vehicles last month as the model completes its first year of sales.

The Chevrolet Blazer, the four-door version of which is being replaced by the all-new TrailBlazer, sold 7,741 models last month, a 60 percent plunge. And sales of the Honda CR-V declined 25 percent to 9,022 while Toyota RAV4 sales totaled 7,361, delivering a 116 percent increase - but not a match for the Liberty.

Jeep Cherokee sales dropped 35 percent in July nationwide compared with the year-ago month to 6,208 as inventories dwindle to make way for its successor, the Liberty.

Last year in July, dealers nationwide sold 9,550 Cherokees, which went out of production in June.

The Liberty, which is made at the new Toledo North assembly plant, will have even stronger sales once dealer inventories increase, but itís still too soon to say whether the factory next to I-75 at the I-280 split will need a third production shift, said Gary Dilts, the Chrysler unitís senior vice president of sales.

"Weíre watching it every day," he said yesterday. "We want to grow the business properly and donít want to oversupply it too early."

About 50,000 Libertys - more than 10,000 ahead of schedule - have been made at the factory since production of sellable vehicles started in April, said Trevor Hale, a DaimlerChrysler spokesman.

To keep up with Liberty demand, workers started putting in 10-hour shifts July 9 and are working two out of three Saturdays, he said.

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