News this week that Chinese Motor Manufacturer ‘Great Wall’ has set its sights on SUV giant Jeep will no doubt send some shock waves through the Motoring world.
We have already seen what Chinese goliath Geely have done with the Volvo Brand since its takeover in 2010. Turning the quintessentially British Middle Class brand, described in the 1990 film ‘Crazy People’ as “they are boxy, but they're safe”, into a highly desirable brand with futuristic plans for model revamping.
We have known for some time, that with 1/5th of the world’s population, that if the Chinese took anything seriously they have the potential to be world beaters. Often remarked as copiers of brands, with little or no trademark laws to protect foreign manufactures the Chinese car manufacturing industry has been booming. Now comes news that Great Wall wants Jeep! This might be a bigger shock than the Geely:Volvo marriage.
Great Wall President, Wang Fengying is listed as the one of the most powerful woman in Asia and China’s highest paid Auto CEO, is quoted as saying Great Wall “intends to buy Jeep” and is “Connecting with FCA”.
Buying Jeep, makes sense, an iconic brand with the historic Willys-Overland grill of seven bars, designed once and expanded upon numerous times, still holds a market share of about 0.5% in the UK, being around 10,000 vehicles a year, and was heralded as the fastest growing brand in Europe in 2016. The loss to FCA would be significant, as significant as the acquisition would be to Great Wall.
What then for the future of Jeep the brand? Will Great Wall, with its undoubted enthusiasm and wealth develop Jeep into an entirely new brand, embracing EV technology, and in doing so re-write the history of a brand born out of a generation of gas-guzzling motors or will it keep the Status Quo? Only time will tell, but if the deal goes through who knows what this will mean for other iconic brands across the globe.