LAND Rover is owned by Indian company Tata, and another iconic off-road manufacturer could be set for Asian ownership.
Reports out of the US have suggested Chinese company Great Wall wants to buy Jeep. US industry publication Automotive News reported that a Great Wall executive claimed the company has reached out to Jeep owners, FCA, to start negotiations on a deal. FCA, on the other hand, denies any talks have commenced.
The official statement from FCA read: “In response to market rumours regarding a potential interest of Great Wall Motors in the Jeep brand, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles confirmed that it has not been approached by Great Wall Motors in connection with the Jeep brand or any other matter relating to its business.
“FCA is fully committed to its 2014-18 plan, having achieved each one of its targets to date and with only six quarters left to its completion.”
With 2018 just months away, that last line doesn’t add much relevance.
Jeep is seen as the jewel in the FCA crown, with its strong global product line said to bring in more sales alone than the rest of the FCA brands combined. Those brands include Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Dodge, RAM and Chrysler. RAM is another FCA brand said to be on the radar of Chinese buyers.
With a new JL Wrangler set to debut before the end of 2017 and the subsequent Wrangler pick-up a year later, the strength of the seven-slot grille is only set to grow. The new Compass mid-size SUV that is due in Australia early in 2018 is also doing great things for Jeep in markets where it has already been launched.
Whether or not FCA is prepared to break up its brands and sell one of its most successful marques is yet to be seen, but what would Chinese ownership mean for a company like Jeep?
If we look at Land Rover, for example, the sale from Ford to Tata injected billions of dollars into development of new technologies and products, allowing the Jaguar and Land Rover brands to return to profit.
Sure, LR has steered more toward the profitable, luxurious style of vehicle with less off-road ability, but it does show what can be achieved without a massive US corporation hanging over your head.
Hopefully the same could be said for Jeep should these Great Wall rumours prove true.