Enthusiasts It's a Black-Widow Thing: Why Does Every Company that Owns Jeep Die?

19:21  07 december  2017
19:21  07 december  2017 Source:   Car and Driver

2019 Jeep Cherokee reveals a much more normal face

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But Jeep does have the tendency to send the company that owns it —let’ s call it a host company —to its death while it thrives.

It's a Black-Widow Thing: Why Does Every Company that Owns Jeep Die?© DANIEL PUND It's a Black-Widow Thing: Why Does Every Company that Owns Jeep Die?

From the December 2017 issue

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2017 jeep wrangler
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Remember the facehugger from the movie Alien? That was awesome, right? Well, we in the auto biz have our own facehugger. Its name is Jeep. Now, Jeep isn’t gross and doesn’t have a proboscis or acidic blood. But Jeep does have the tendency to send the company that owns it—let’s call it a host company—to its death while it thrives. When was the last time you bought a Kaiser?

Willys-Overland (1941–1963)

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1941 Jeep Willys MA© Manufacturer 1941 Jeep Willys MA What we now know as Jeep is born in 1941 at the behest of the federal government. Willys-Overland and Ford Motor Company essentially crib the design from American Bantam. This makes American Bantam both Jeep’s parent and its first victim. The origin of Jeep’s name is up for debate: Some say it’s named after the Popeye comic-strip character Eugene the Jeep; others claim it’s simply the phonetic combination of the letters G and P, the military abbreviation for general purpose. The name doesn’t become official until 1950, when Willys is awarded a trademark for “Jeep.” In 1953, Kaiser-Frazer purchases Willys-Overland for $62.3 million. Willys produces its last passenger car in 1955, but Jeep production continues. In 1963, the Willys name is dropped entirely and the company comes to be known as the Kaiser Jeep International Corporation.

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Kaiser Jeep International Corporation (1963–1970)

1968 Jeep Gladiator J-3000© Manufacturer 1968 Jeep Gladiator J-3000 In 1970, Kaiser sells to American Motors Corporation and gets out of the auto business entirely. Jeep survives.

American Motors Corporation (1970–1987)

1975 Jeep Cherokee© Manufacturer 1975 Jeep Cherokee By 1977, AMC is staggering along after losing $73.8 million over the previous two fiscal years. In 1977, Jeep sells a record 124,843 vehicles in the U.S.

Renault (1979–1987)

1986 Jeep Comanche© Manufacturer 1986 Jeep Comanche The French company Renault buys into AMC in 1979.

Chrysler (1987–1998)

  It's a Black-Widow Thing: Why Does Every Company that Owns Jeep Die? © Provided by Car and Driver Chrysler, under the leadership of Lee Iacocca, buys American Motors for $1.5 billion in 1987. The prize is Jeep, which an analyst at the time estimates to be worth $850 million. A few years earlier, Jeep had introduced its most significant and popular model since the CJ (civilian Jeep): the XJ Cherokee. AMC becomes Jeep-Eagle. Eagle lasts about a decade before being euthanized. Jeep does just dandy. With the introduction of the Grand Cherokee for the 1993 model year, Jeep sales improve by 66 percent within the span of a year. For calendar year 1993, Jeep sales in the U.S. top 400,000 for the first time in the brand’s history.

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DaimlerChrysler (1998–2007)

2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee© Manufacturer 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee In a “merger of equals,” Daimler buys Chrysler for $36 billion in 1998. By then, Jeep reliably sells around half a million vehicles per year in the SUV-hungry U.S.

Cerberus Capital Management (2007–2009)

2008 Jeep Liberty Sport© Manufacturer 2008 Jeep Liberty Sport In 2007, eager to unload Chrysler, Daimler foists it off on a private equity firm that has zero experience running a car company but is named after the three-headed dog who, in Greek mythology, guards the entrance to the underworld. Oddly, this does not go well.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (2009–present)

2018 Jeep Wrangler© Manufacturer 2018 Jeep Wrangler In a scant two years, Cerberus-controlled Chrysler seeks bankruptcy protection and is rescued by the U.S. government. (Yes, the same government that ordered Jeep’s creation in the first place.) The company emerges from bankruptcy thanks in large part to Fiat. Dodge sales decline, dropping from 594,865 in 2013 to 506,858 in 2016. Chrysler-brand sales slide from 302,995 to 231,972 during the same period. And Jeep? Well, in that time frame, its U.S. sales nearly double to 926,376 (with 1.4 million sold worldwide)

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Mojitos and Lift Kits: The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Is All Ready for Mopar PartsThe two kitted-out Wranglers at the L.A. auto show aren't limited-edition decal jobs—although you can be assured those will soon follow. They're sample creations using parts from the latest Jeep Performance Parts and Mopar accessories catalog.

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