Remember that moment when you realized you’ve been fooled or double-crossed for the first time by someone?
However bitter it might seem, it’s the moment you’ve started growing up.
It’s also the moment of enlightenment you need for going through the world of today.
What is exactly the world of today? World of lies? Not necessarily. I’d say – the world of uncertainty. There are many examples.
At least in the automotive industry…
Unforeseen Consequences: Chrysler’s Story
Global crisis that started in 2008 affected economies throughout the world. For car makers, that meant a rapid decrease of vehicle sales and consequently a fall in their production. Maintaining the production on previous levels was impossible. Every company struggled to find the way to survive, sometimes having to make desperate decisions.
For Chrysler, as one of the “Big Three”, it was not the first time to face the brink of bankruptcy. They already had their share of hard cheese during the 1973 oil crisis. And they survived. This time however, company’s luck was pushed to its very limits.
But to be accurate, company’s problems started even earlier. In 1998, Daimler-Benz and Chrysler merged with big expectations. Merger has proven to be a failure and ended up with Chrysler being bought by Cerberus Capital Management in 2007. Even the name of the company was changed to Chrysler LLC. When it seemed that things couldn’t be any worse, the automotive industry crisis that lasted for two years (2008-2010) struck.
U.S. government got involved and tried to help by pumping money into Chrysler and General Motors (that also was in trouble) in an attempt to prevent the shutting down of both companies. But, the help, though being enormous, came too late. Something drastic moves had to be done. During the April of 2009 Chrysler Group LLC filed for bankruptcy reorganization. Prior to that event, in January of the same year, the Italian car maker Fiat had shown up with a bold plan. Another merger was about to happen.
Global alliance between the two companies started with Fiat taking 20% stake in Chrysler. In addition to that, Fiat got access to the Chrysler’s North American distribution network. On the other hand, the American manufacturer wanted to gain the access to the Fiat’s global distribution network and a full support for building smaller, cost-effective and fuel efficient vehicles for the U.S. market.
Today Fiat is constantly working on increasing the ownership of Chrysler. According to the press, they are very soon going to make a share purchase that will, combined with the previous ones, sum up to a total of 61.8%. Though it’s not clear whether we are going to see Chrysler’s name on the vehicles in the future or not, the fact is that they managed to survive another blow and stand on their feet once again. And as far as Fiat is concerned, they came to the U.S. to stay.
Jeep: Making Brave Moves
One of the most popular vehicle brands and one of the toughest Chrysler’s divisions, Jeep made several announcements during the past seven days that brought them to the cover of several automotive magazines.
They even found the way to the pages of the New York Times, where they were criticized for bringing back the old name for one of their brand new SUVs. Yes, it’s about the Jeep Cherokee. The mentioned article is two pages long and contains the examples of questionable car naming in the past.
With all due respect to the members of Cherokee people, personally I don’t see what’s the big deal. Vehicle that is going to bear their name is not going to be some mediocre small car that isn’t going to impress anyone, but a mid-size SUV designed to be in the top of its class. But everyone has the right to have his own opinion on the matter.
2014 Jeep Cherokee on Steroids
With starting price of $23k, the new Cherokee will be offered in form of four different trim levels (Sport, Limited, Trailhawk and Latitude).
Sport, Cherokee’s entry-level model, will feature 2.4-liter four-cylinder MultiAir2 Tigershark I4 engine. Other levels will come with a Pentastar V6 3.2-liter engine. Standard V6 engine has proven to be capable of handling the most situations you might get into, but Tigershark is a smarter choice for those who want better fuel economy.
According to the manufacturer, fuel efficiency has improved by 45%, increasing the driving range up to 490 miles on single tank when powered by Tigershark.
On the other side, Pentastar V6 is built for performance. You won’t be able to achieve fancy 31 mpg like with previous engine, but getting 271 hp and 239 lb-ft of torque from Pentastar would probably make you forget about it. Towing over four thousand pounds is this engine’s specialty. Both engine variants come in combination with nine-speed automatic transmission.
Other features regarding safety, reliability and off-road capability will make the new 2014 Cherokee a great buy when it shows up this fall. The rest of the data concerning basic variants of this great SUV could be found using this link.
What’s more interesting is that even though the new model is not available on market, there are rumors of a high trim Cherokee made by SRT division of Chrysler. Information (or disinformation) came from the Allpar.com, Chrysler fansite that is believed to have very close ties to relevant sources inside the company.
Since SRT already designed the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT version, it would be a real shame that his smaller sibling doesn’t get its high-performance variant. There is a lot of speculation on what engine will drive Cherokee SRT. I personally don’t agree with those who claim that SRT will feature buffed Tigershark engine with 300 hp, when the already existing Pentastar offers the same amount of power.
The more likely option would be installation of Maserati’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 400 hp at its disposal. Given that the price of Cherokee would go drastically upwards in this case, Maserati won’t be the best solution.
In the end, the upgrading of Pentastar V6 seems to be the most viable option. With a single turbo, this engine could benefit from another 100 hp at its disposal. With twin turbo, it would be able to deliver up to 150 hp, making it give 410 hp in total.
It still remains to be seen if the new high-power Cherokee will be approved for production. And if it eventually does, it would be interesting to observe how the market would react to it. Nobody knows for sure what will happen, but if you ask me, I would really like to see this project succeed.
Baby Jeep – the Redeemer
Jeep’s models Patriot and Compass didn’t exactly live up to the expectations. Actually, they sucked big time. It would take some time to make a list of all things they sucked at, so let’s waste no time on that. What really matters is that things are going to get better (I hope) in 2014 when the introduction of new Jeep model is going to take place.
The model in question will be a subcompact crossover/CUV built on one of the Fiat platforms (Fiat 500X). What’s even more interesting is the fact that the vehicle is going to be produced, not in the United States like the rest of the Jeeps, but in Turin, Italy.
The big plan is to create a vehicle that could adequately compete with small sedan and hatchback cars, but offering the Jeep uniqueness and off-road capabilities at the same time. This project is actually one of the reasons Fiat and Chrysler formed an alliance, as said in the beginning of this article. Fiat is provides Jeep with all the necessary tech and support to make the CUV, and Chrysler/Jeep gives Fiat access to its distribution network.
This car segment is constantly growing lately, but we have to note that the market is already well covered with various models (for example the Buick Encore). The “Baby” Jeep will have to be small as a Ford Fiesta, spacious as a regular SUV and able to offer an attractive price to customers. Also, Fiat’s experience will play a big role in making this happen.
There is not much technical data about the new vehicle. We only know that it will be comparable in size to the other small cars in the niche, and that except for gasoline and diesel (only in Europe) engines, company is considering developing a hybrid version too.
I wonder just how will the mixture of Fiat and Jeep look like. And I know that we’re all getting more curious the longer we wait for a new model. I just hope that in the end, the waiting will pay off.