On Thursday April 30th 2009, Chrysler officially declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
So now what happens?
Will the beloved Jeep survive, or will it disappear into the sunset as GM has slated for such brands as the Hummer, Saturn and Pontiac?
The handy-dandy go anywhere 4×4 vehicle known as the Jeep has been around since World War II.
- Willys was bought out by Kaiser.
- AMC bought the Jeep brand from Kaiser.
- Renault became part owner with AMC.
- AMC was bought out by Chrysler.
- And finally, Daimler-Benz became financially tied to Chrysler.
Recent Jeep Changes
Finding out what’s on the horizon for the Jeep name now is like looking for a needle in the haystack.
Will the Jeep be discontinued? As distasteful as this would be… with the bankruptcy court system in control at this point, it is a definite possibility. Liquidation to satisfy creditors is something the courts may insist upon.
Of course, liquidation doesn’t always mean that factories are disassembled and production machinery is sold off piece by piece. Instead, the whole Jeep line may be sold off as a package. This could be part of what is being called “The New Chrysler Corporation” which will be influenced by their new partner Fiat.
This by no means is a guarantee that the Jeep line will gain a slot in the new company, or which particular models will find a new home still under a Chrysler moniker.
However, there will likely always be a market for the mainstay of the Jeep name, the Jeep Wrangler. To that end, like the Delorean, it would be very likely that some smaller company would pick up the rights to manufacture the Jeep, and production would continue — though probably on a much smaller scale.
Loyal Jeep Wrangler owners have little to fear as the aftermarket currently provides everything you need to build your own Jeep Wrangler (or Jeep CJ) to what ever specifications you desire completely from scratch. Fiberglass body kits have made the Jeep CJ practically immortal, as well as bullet-proof!
There is one speculative possibility that has made it to print regarding the future of Jeep. It has been suggested that some of Chrysler’s assets may be picked up by both GM and Ford. Ford, being the only one of the big 3 having not accepted any government bailout money, seems to be the most likely candidate.
What Goes Around Comes Around
Like so many things in history, what goes around comes around.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if the Jeep name returns to its roots and once again is produced under the name brand that was part of its original place in history? It would be even more significant if it returned to a form closer to the original — a basic utility 4×4 designed more for off-road use in a compact and efficient package.
In this video, President Obama explains what’s to come from Chrysler’s bankruptcy:
UPDATE June 4, 2009:
Chrysler’s bankruptcy didn’t have much negative effect on their sales numbers either with Chrysler vehicles seeing an increase of 32%, 23% for Dodge, and 21% for Jeep. Source