Is DaimlerChrysler Hearing Pleas for the Rescue?

Date 2004/1/20 0:00:00 | Topic: Miscellaneous

Chrysler Officials Hinting That the Jeep Rescue May Be Built

We ran across this article this morning on IndyStar.com - it seems to be in the similar vein as recent reports of the Jeep/Hummer relationship. The big difference is that the chief designer of the Jeep Rescue seems to think there's a strong business case to put it into production. Here's a snippet:

The popularity of General Motors' brawny Hummer brand has spawned wannabes.

Both Ford Motor and Chrysler Group have produced concept vehicles with Hummerlike qualities.

No wonder.

In its first full year on sale, GM sold 35,259 of the Indiana-built Hummer H2s, about 25 percent more than it had anticipated.

And profits are enormous. GM is eager to broaden the line, and that has its competition taking notice.

Having to follow GM is particularly galling for Chrysler, which believes its Jeep is the pioneer for military-type sport-utility vehicles.

"It hurts when you have to have a competitor emulate you and get credit for being ahead of you. That stings," says David McKinnon, DaimlerChrysler design vice president. He oversaw Jeep's concept sport-utility vehicle, Rescue, which is aimed squarely at the Hummer H2 produced in Mishawaka at the AM General plant.

Both Hummers and Jeeps started as military trucks, and it's the military imagery that drives the brands.

"Most SUVs look similar, but Jeep and Hummer have history, a back story to their brands," says marketing consultant Dennis Keene.

"They are like the Corvettes and Mustangs of SUVs."

Jeep is Chrysler's strongest brand, but the automaker is clearly frustrated by Hummer.

It unsuccessfully sued GM in an attempt to keep it from using a seven-slot grille shared by Hummer and Jeep. It also has run a recent TV ad spoofing a popular Hummer ad about a soapbox derby.

Although Rescue, which was shown last week at the Los Angeles auto show, is a concept vehicle, Chrysler officials hinted strongly that the SUV will be built.

"There is a business case to do it," said chief designer Trevor Creed.

Rescue would be a heavy-duty off-roader with a full-size, 123-inch wheelbase, towering 37-inch-diameter tires and, like Jeep Wrangler, removable doors and fold-flat windshield.

A Cummins diesel engine would be offered.

And a camera system underneath would help drivers find hidden wheel-busting rocks.

Be sure to check out the entire article.

Wondering more about who Trevor Creed is? Check out this article for a little background on the guy who's got a big say in what the future of Jeep will bring.





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