Hummers Leading the Way: It Didn't Have to Happen
Date 2004/3/27 0:00:00 | Topic: Miscellaneous
|Jeep commentary from Edward Lapham on AutoNews.com|
Longtime automotive industry reporter (and now editor of Automotive News) recently published a bit of commentary about Jeeps and Hummers and their relative positions in the off-road vehicle industry. Here's a couple of snippets:
The Jeep brand is in an unfamiliar position these days. For half a century, the Jeep name meant rugged, off-road adventure. Jeep lawyers jealously protected the brand name from those who used it as a generic description for off-road vehicles. Be sure to check out the entire commentary - it is worth the free registration that is required for the site.
Jeep was the crown jewel when Chrysler Corp. bought American Motors in 1987 and again when Daimler bought Chrysler in 1998.
But times have changed. Today Jeep is trying to catch Hummer and recapture the hearts and minds of American consumers. That's no small feat. Hummer grabbed Jeep's long-standing position as the all-American off-road toy partly because of great marketing by Hummer and partly because of not-so-great brand decisions by Jeep.
It didn't have to happen.
Today, Jeep's offerings don't stand out in the crowd. The brand is muffled and non-distinctive. The Grand Cherokee is long in the tooth. It bowed in 1999, hasn't been nurtured and has been surpassed by its competitors. Liberty is more civilized than the Wrangler, but civility isn't Jeep-like. Add to that all the marketing mumbo-jumbo about whether or not a given Jeep model is trail-rated, and the brand becomes even more unexceptional.
Meanwhile, Hummer has expanded its lineup, moving down in size from the H1 to the H2. The pickup-like H2 SUT debuts this fall and the mid-sized H3 a year later.