There’s no denying the obvious use for the Jeep when it started out in the 1940’s, but as consumer needs have changed, has our little farm working Army Jeep grown up a little?
Not so much the media image ,but the look of Jeep has changed. They have got beefier, more menacing (but then so has Land Rover and Range Rover), they’ve started looking less ‘classic Army Jeep’ and more like they’ve taken one for them for health and safety. Basically they lost their edge to consumer needs. As safety standards took over the automotive industry and shook it about a bit, they started telling every manufacturer that they need better braking systems, better seat belts and enough airbags to suffocate a small puppy. So our little Jeep (and big Cherokee Jeeps) were no longer hardy soap dishes with canvas roofs, they were hardy machines, built for families and their children’s sticky fingers.
They tried to change their environmental image, same as Landey, from fuel sloshing 4 x 4’s to Green Machines in 2012. The Grand Cherokee, showcased in Detroit, was given a ‘heart transplant’, a simple case of swapping the engine with a battery to maintain the existing qualities of the car and making the first all-electric SUV. Here is a link to the news report when the car was showcased:
Not only are Jeep getting a plug socket attachment as standard, they are planning to go all crazy over EcoDiesel in 2013. Consumer needs are changing; people want to be seen to be doing what is right by the environment, whilst also sticking to what they know in their rather large SUV’s. It is said that early in 2013 Grand Cherokee will also feature in this new line up. Packing 224hp and 406 lb-ft torque, the Grand Cherokee will be powered by a 3.0 litre, V6 EcoDiesel engine (designed by Fiat) and making it the least expensive 4WD diesel vehicle in America.
Although they still have their niche in identity – you can still spot that a Wrangler is a Wrangler and a Compass is a Compass – their individuality is being challenged, they have started taking on features of other models, making them look altogether more Chrysler Jeep than original Jeep. Personally this is seen by Patriot, Wrangler and Liberty and then in the Grand Cherokee and Compass. I understand that the cars heritage has come from improving and replacing predecessors and so identities will mingle, but before the 2000’s at least they had some individuality.
But how is Jeep portrayed by the media? To pick just one example of how their original values have stayed true to the brand, Jeep wasted no time by showing off their fun side early this January. A press release on the Chrysler online site gives details of how Jeep is getting involved in the X Games in Aspen January 2013, and how they are giving away a brand new 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon to a winner of a Facebook game that gets them to Aspen. Whoever has the right key to the car gets it. Simple, but effective, someone gets a car and Chrysler media gets to show off their shiny new models at one of the world’s largest Snowsports competition. Here is a link to the press release: http://media.chrysler.com/newsrelease.do?id=13624&mid=4
It’s a back and forth argument about how the image of Jeep has changed, and how the media continues to perceive the brand. As the environmental and consumer needs change, manufacturers must be up to the challenge of changing with it or risk losing out. Jeep has risen to such a challenge with its new ideas of EcoDiesel and electric, desperately trying not to change their initial values. They have tried, as shown by attending the X Games this year, that they have retained their adventurous side, thus arguing that their image there hasn’t changed, but the more bulkier, safer models they bring out, shows they are just following the trend of expensive family SUV’s.