Just how popular is Jeep?

I like the Jeep Wrangler. In fact, when I first visited my wife’s family in Canada back in 2004, I wanted to move to Vancouver and buy a Jeep. They were everywhere. They’re a cool looking vehicle, styled to look as tough and capable as they’re reputed to be. When Chrysler was poised for closure in the height of the global financial crisis, it was the Jeep brand that was regarded as the jewel in the Chrysler crown.

I was surprised a few weeks ago, whilst walking around a shopping mall in Melbourne, to see a Jeep clothing store. Not a Jeep section in a bigger clothing store. A whole shop dedicated to Jeep apparel. It had the same Jeep branding we know from the automotive company, just printed on jeans, T-shirts and other bits and pieces. Yes, I was surprised.

I don’t notice Australian Rules Football club sponsors that often, but I do know that there are a few car companies supporting clubs in the AFL. Ford have been a long-term sponsor of the Geelong Football Club (they have a plant there). Hyundai are a sponsor of my favourite club – Carlton. Skoda sponsors the leagues newest club in Greater Western Sydney and of course, Toyota are the major sponsors for the whole competition as well as one of the two clubs based in Adelaide.

There are probably a few more, too, but the one relevant to this article is the Richmond Football Club, which is sponsored by Jeep.

And then there’s the TV campaign they’ve been running here in Australia – I bought a Jeep. It’s died down a bit now, but a few weeks ago it was absolutely everywhere.

So why are Jeep doubling down in Australia this year?

Well, believe it or not, they’re actually building on success that they’ve already had here. Jeep has a reputation for capability and they’re reasonably well priced here. People are noticing, too, with Jeep sales up 108% in March 2012 (year on year). Jeep are not amongst the top 10 companies here, but with SUV sales growing at a steady rate, perhaps they see some potential for that to happen in the future.

BUT…… looking at reports about Jeep and their sales figures here has made me wonder: just how popular are Jeep around the world?

The USA is Jeep’s #1 market. In March 2012 they sold just over 45,000 vehicles, which was a gain of 36% year on year. That’s pretty good.

I don’t know Jeep’s exact Australian sales figures in March, but I do know they weren’t one of the Top 10 companies. Kia, at position #10, had sales of just 2,738 vehicles for the month.

And here’s why that Australian sales figure is rather important when it comes to this discussion – according to Go Auto, one of the most respected industry journals here in Oz, this great southern land of ours is Jeep’s #2 global market.

As the second-largest Jeep market in the world, Australia has considerably more clout within Fiat and Chrysler than might be expected.

So the US is #1 with 45,000 sales in March and Australia is #2 with less than 2,700?

I don’t fear for the future of Jeep at all. It was the jewel in Chrysler’s crown and now it’s one of the jewels in Fiat’s crown.

But how solid is your base when little old Australia is your #2 market in the world? When your sales drop off from 45,000 in your #1 market to less than 2,700 in your #2 market????

Heck, even tiny Saab had three markets of complimentary size atop their sales tree. Of course, Saab didn’t sell in a year what Jeep sell in a month inside the US, but still…..

It makes me wonder just how significant Jeep is in the world, and how lucky they are to have a collection of brands around them to provide some external support. The Wrangler is their bread and butter and in terms of appeal, their models fall away pretty quickly after that (for me, at least).

I hope they can lift the range as the world is a better place with brands like Jeep in it.

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16 Comments

  1. my boss has one, great for the family, very practical, killer on the beach. I haven’t seen it properly 4WDing, basically represented good value for money and so he bought it.

    BUT – rumours about Jeeps catching on fire have been bought up in many a conversation surrounding the Jeep, might be something or your goodself to look into

    Aside: yes I’m on holidays + No I’m not playing organised sport this year + Yes I’m on my couch a lot = posting things here.

    1. I thought there was a marked increase in Ranga activity around here 🙂

      A welcome one, mate. Enjoy your break (except for tomorrow – I hope the ‘pies get smashed!)

    1. Ha! I recall that when Lee Iacocca was saving Chrysler from the crusher in the 1980’s many of his public figures included sales from Canada in the ‘domestic’ tally because Chrysler had manufacturing plants in Canada and was thus a ‘home’ market. He did so to exaggerate slightly the impact that closing Chrysler would have on the economy to better lobby the government for the loans that he was seeking.

      Perhaps the ghost of Lido lives?

    2. Canada not being the #2 market was the primary reason I was surprised enough to write this article.

      The guys at Go Auto are pretty thorough, but perhaps this was one of their off days.

  2. I know that Jeep is/was hugely popular in Mexico and in Argentina. Jeeps were even produced in Argentina for some time.

    My brother-in-law has a four-door Wrangler because it’s a true 5-passenger ‘vert. The thing has been off-road for at least 38 seconds of its life, something that I remind him about regularly. 😉

  3. The little Jeep Wrangler is really one of the few simple vehicles left available to buy. You can’t go wrong with the chrysler v6, it’s in a few million minivans. The service access is really great and It’s refreshing to see a very simple vehicle be so popular. Creature comfort and safety rank right up there with an old pickup truck from the 50’s. As far as off-road ability? It’s a Jeep! It will go almost any where you want to take it.

  4. Yep. They are pretty popular here in the US but I don’t think even here I have ever seen a Jeep apparel store! That’s a new one, but maybe it is a push to build their brand there down under. Get people wearing the logo first…then thinking about buying one.

  5. I know you are not a Richmond fan Swade, but The Jeep commercial starring Tommy Hafey has got to be one of the most inspirational things I’ve ever seen. The guy was 79 years old when this first aired, and he could kick a lot of guy’s arses who are 60 years his junior!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5OYIXIcbM0

    My old business partner had a Wrangler when living in L.A. for the simple reason that Jeeps are one of the few cars that are not class-specific– both the very wealthy and the not-at-all wealthy drive them in equal numbers. Being a young guy on the make in car-crazy California at that time, this turned out to be a savvy move. Also, he never took care of his cars, and the 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine in his Jeep was hard to kill.

    1. I hadn’t seen that, Gregg. Thanks for the link. Tommy’s a legendary former player/coach in the Aussie football community and whilst he coached at several clubs, is mostly tied to Richmond, where he played and coached premierships. His fitness regime (which also includes running up sand dunes) is well known. He’s in outstanding shape.

  6. In September 2011, Fiat reported 15000 new Jeeps for the European market from January to August 2011, with strong growth.

  7. The Jeeps sell like hot cakes here in NJ USA. The Grand Cherokee remains a luxury SUV. The wranglers have a large price range from 16K us dollars all the
    way up to 40K us dollars for Modern Wafare 3 edition. Handling aside I
    thing the Jeeps lend themselves well to our poor roads and irregular winters.
    I’m just baffled how anyone can afford to put gas in the things.

  8. Very pleased 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee owner here. Never thought I’d buy an American vehicle, let alone one from Chrysler, but the new JGC is that good.

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