What If Great Wall Bought Jeep?

Jeep & Great Wall Logos IIIn case you haven't heard the rumors, the recent buzz in the auto industry is that China's Great Wall Motors is looking to purchase the Jeep brand from parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Both sides have denied the rumors, but if it does happen, it could mean good things for Jeep and more pickup truck possibilities for consumers.

For context, let's look at Geely's — another Chinese automaker — 2010 purchase of the Volvo brand from Ford. Geely injected a boatload of cash into Volvo's engineering and design teams, which resulted in the highly awarded XC90 SUV and all-new S90 sedan. Both have wowed auto writers with their impressive power and technology, as well as its over-achieving interior. Could the same thing happen if Great Wall bought Jeep?

Let's look at a few things. First, FCA would have to be willing to split off one of its two cash cows right now — the other being Ram — so the price would have to be right. According to Automotive News (subscription required), there seems to be plenty of cash on hand and several Chinese banks willing to help Great Wall Motors. Great Wall has struggled to get into the North American market, and this acquisition could help. If the deal was made, it would allow Great Wall to expand and increase its SUV knowledge and market reach tenfold. So far, Great Wall's only foray into the SUV class was the Haval H8, which had transmission issues that required help from outside sources.

Great Wall makes the stout Wingle 5 and larger Wingle 6 pickups. What could a Great Wall acquisition mean for the coming Jeep pickup? No matter who owns it, this first-generation return-of-the-Jeep pickup — expected to be a 2019 model — is likely to be a slam dunk for the U.S. market, but it could struggle globally if it's not sized and priced properly. Anything meant for China must be able to do work duty, just like other global mid-size pickups — some of which can carry more than 2,000 pounds of cargo. That's something none of our U.S. mid-size pickups can do. A Jeep pickup could play well in South America and other tropical regions where a credible set of live axles and an advanced four-wheel-drive system would be a huge asset when the rains come, but it would have to do urban duty as well, maybe with a flat-bed cargo deck and dump bed.

Whatever happens between FCA and Great Wall, it's important for the owner to keep pace with new products in the highly profitable SUV and pickup classes. That could mean more mid-size and full-size pickups options from FCA's Jeep and/or Ram brands. And if Jeep and Ram really take off, what will happen to FCA's other two brands, Chrysler or Dodge? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Manufacturer images

 

Jeep-gladiatorconcept2 II2005 Jeep Gladiator Concept pickup truck, based off the Jeep Wrangler

 

Comments

Personally I'd rather have that pictured '05 Gladiator concept than I would the JLU-based crew cab. Far more functional when you simply have no need for full-time second-row seating.



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