Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Over on the Jeep forums we were pondering who was going to get Jeep once Chrysler collapsed. After all, the brand has been through so many owners and been such a cash cow to so many people over the past 60 years that the notion of Jeep going away seemed ridiculous. Willys, Kaiser, AMC, Renault, Chrysler, the brand's been around.

So anyhow, there were the speculations about GM buying Jeep and trashing its Hummer business, the long shot about Ford maybe buying Jeep. The Germans? Nope, they'd tried, and just don't "get" Jeep. The French? Been there, done that, they lost their butts on AMC-Jeep, doubt they have any interest in doing it again. The Japs? Nope, they don't operate like that -- they don't buy brands, they build them up themselves. The Chinese? They're not ready to enter the U.S. market for at least another three years, their current cars can't pass U.S. safety standards as designed (they're working on re-designing to meet U.S. standards) and Jeep doesn't work as a stand-alone brand, it needs a car partner to take up the slack when Jeep sales are down (Jeeps are play items so sales are best when the economy is good, while cheap cars sell best when the economy is bad). The South Koreans? Ah yes, the South Koreans *do* buy brands. Say hello to the Hyundai Wrangler, I speculated!

But now I open my Google to find that, well... the EYE-talians are comin'. Fix It Again Tony. FIAT. Talk about your surprises.

Fiat's been in the United States before. Lost their butt because their shit is too small and slow and unreliable for the USA, skulked out with their tail tucked under their asses and stuck to Europe thereafter. Thing is, half of the world drives Fiats. They're small cheap-ass cars (their largest car isn't even as large as a Honda Civic) and when they tool up for new lines of Fiats, they sell the old tooling to someone in some depressed place like Brazil or Yugoslavia or Russia for them to build Fiats under their own nameplates, so you have half the world driving Fiats that aren't Fiats but are, if you get what I mean.

In other words, they sell exactly what Chrysler *doesn't* sell after being raped by the Germans (who cancelled all of Chrysler's small-car projects because "Americans can't build small cars" -- nevermind the Dodge Neon, which at the time certainly was a small car and a fairly competent one at that albeit a bit dated and in need of a redesign). Which makes them truly a good match for Chrysler -- each sells vehicles that aren't in the other company's lineup.

That said, the Curse of Jeep shall continue. Every company that has owned Jeep or part of Jeep has ended up in the dumps. If Fiat gets Chrysler, my guess is that they'll go the same way as Renault. Them Euros just don't "get" American car culture, and I doubt they ever will.

-- Badtux the Car Penguin


  1. "If Fiat gets Chrysler' Complete disaster.

  2. I think that Fiat is a perfect fit for Jeep. Jeeps have been poor quality pieces of junk for ages, just like Fiats. (I remember one that a friend bought in the 90s. The passenger side floor actually oil-canned under my feet!)

  3. I work for Chrysler and we have a few ex- AMC,Renault guys in our department. According to them the CEO of Renault at the time they owned Jeep considered the sale of Jeep to Chrysler the worst mistake he ever made as the head of Renault. They "got" Jeep but the Germans could have cared less. They just wanted our cash reserves.


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