Last year, as with any year, there were a number of controversies relating to the automobile industry. Most of them were relating to Google’s driverless cars, or Uber, or the ecological friendliness of ethanol. But one that stuck out for me was the release of the Jeep Renegade.
A new Jeep usually sends heaps of positive vibes throughout the industry. But the reaction to the Renegade was decidedly more mixed. Upon the release of the latest Jeep model, many automobile journalists took to print and the Internet to express outrage. But why was this?
The Jeep Renegade is tough, technologically advanced and stylish. In other words, it has many of the great attributes of your classic Jeep. The problem wasn’t its performance – indeed, the controversy spawned before it had even been released to the public. The problem was the fact that it was being crafted in Italy. Angry Jeep fans across America took to their blogs to express their displeasure at such an American icon being handled by the Italians.
The Jeep: An American Icon
So how ingrained is American history, culture and personality in the Jeep? Surely for people to have gotten so mad about this development, the Jeep would have to be distinctly American as a selling point?
Well, to be fair to the angry fans, the origins of the Jeep has its roots in America. The Jeep began life during World War II; in fact, that bloody battle necessitated its creation. Several complications during World War I had left the United States Department of War with one clear message. They needed a cross-country reconnaissance vehicle. It needed to be tough enough to weather the harsh war lands, but light and compact enough fly into the territory easily.
Via commission by the government, three motor companies ended up collaborating on what would become the Jeep. American Bantam Car Company provided the design. But they didn’t have the production capacity or financial strength to deliver as many as the War Department needed. So two other influential American car companies stepped in. Willys-Overland Motors and the Ford Motor Company has the means and fiscality to mass-produce the vehicle. The result was the Bantam “Blitz Buggy”. Produced between 1941 and 1945, it proved to be a formidable piece of war equipment.
The Blitz Buggy eventually evolved in the Jeep CJ. The CJ stands for ‘Civilian Jeep’. Producing the Jeep for the post-war civilian market was already being thought out before the war was won. Its popularity across the United States was instant and enduring. The Jeep CJ was produced from 1944 to 1986 and was found in the forms of SUVs, pickup trucks and convertibles.
This historical foundation helps us understand why the Jeep is seen as distinctly American. Providing soldiers with reliable transport has lent to the Jeep its famous tag of “the brand which won World War II”. In a recent survey, Jeep was found to be the most patriotic brand in the eyes of American consumers. It even beat out Coca-Cola and Levi-Strauss. There’s a reason that one of the Jeeps is called the Patriot and includes features such as Freedom Drive. It’s all part of that big and distinctly American sales pitch.
Gaining Footing All Over The World
The popularity of the Jeep has, of course, never been restricted to America. In fact, its worldwide recognition may help us understand the attachment for a Jeep fan to a Jeep and America.
For the readers outside of the United States, I have a question. What do you think of when you think of an American vehicle? Or, more effectively, what country do you think of when you picture big sports utility vehicles? People all over the world know that the Americans have a particular and strong affinity for the Jeep. It’s American qualities is often what sells it in other territories. Other countries may mock American patriotism. But the world has shown, time and time again, then it has a strange fascination and attraction to that mindset. Owning a Jeep is like having a small part of America in your driveway.
Part of the Jeep’s problem in other territories is that it seems excessive. European roads aren’t as wide or unpredictable. So the sales are very much driven by the adventurous and luxurious image that people connect with America and the Jeep. And it’s got to be effective. The Jeep is one of the biggest-selling car brands worldwide and has one of the best resale values out there. Casting an eye on the Jeep deals at Thames Motor Group displays the brand’s value and power in the UK, for example.
Offending The Patriots?
Let’s face it. Being a consumer of a particular brand as a patriotic duty is a strange concept. But it’s been an extremely effective marketing tactic. Every parent company of the Jeep brand have used America’s strong sense of patriotism to their advantage. Of course, this very patriotism owns the toes on which the Jeep Renegade has treaded.
To have an American vehicle is to have a vehicle that supposedly represents the American spirit. They’re rugged, adventurous and tough. To see one is to feel as though you’re about to be consumed by it. The landscape of the United States is more varied than anywhere else in the world. Harsh deserts, rocky mountains, smooth highways and snow-covered towns; it’s all here in America. A versatile, beefy vehicle that can handle it all is part of the American way.
The roads of Europe, on the other hand, are a lot more consistent. Europe has a great variation in landscape, to be sure, but the roads themselves don’t tend to vary much. In the automobile industry, the Italians are of seen as the king of sexy, sleek, fast sports vehicles. With genius engineering and sharp handling, you’ll see that many of the vehicles in vehicular sports are Italian. This is seen by some as the antithesis of the American vehicular mindset: vanity over practicality, if you will.
Strength And Versatility On New Terrain
All of anger in this matter is, of course, unjustified. One of the main selling points of a Jeep is its versatility and sense of adventure. Is not the Jeep Renegade simply a potent example of those very traits?
As has been discussed in this article, the roads of Europe don’t often call for a giant gas-guzzler. While the Jeep is popular worldwide, there are several markets in which it has recently struggled. It’s important to remember who owns Jeep right now. That’s right: Fiat Chrysler Automotive, or FCA. An Italian company and proud, Fiat Chrysler have been running into some market difficulties of their own. It would seem the FCA and the Jeep need each other.
And so we have the Jeep Renegade. In many ways, it’s the first truly global offering from Jeep. It’s smaller and more economical, just the way Europe and Asia like them. What the angry bloggers seem to forget is that the Renegade is aimed at territories outside the USA. It’s not the Italians’ attempt to replace the Jeep Wrangler or Cherokee with a watered-down and cute alternative. It’s a display of the strength and versatility of the Jeep; altering itself to handle the roads of global markets.
Another trait it displays is that signature, cocky American humour. Come on: why else do you think it was called the Renegade? Jeep knew full well it would grind the gears of the overzealous patriots who wouldn’t get what it was trying to do.
The Renegade has an accessible price, sleek design, confirmed durability and glowing reviews. It may have been made in Italy, but its design is all American. Don’t believe that non-US drivers will forget the Renegade’s strong American heritage for even a second.