Jeep may be hot with gamers right now after the simultaneous release of the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 special edition of its Wrangler (tagline: “The toughest vehicle in the world. Any world.”) with the actual new Call of Duty game, which went on sale at midnight last night.
But its Call of Duty tie-in is far from the only thing that the brand has going for it these days. Not only has Jeep led a recent climb in quality rankings for Chrysler Group but its vehicle line-up also is plowing the way for the company in its strong 2011 sales comeback.
When Fiat took over Chrysler in 2009, the new team recognized the inherent value in the Jeep brand — an iconic marque whose origins go all the way back to the military jeeps of World War II and whose history includes introduction of the Jeep model that would launch the modern American sport-utility vehicle market about 20 years ago, the Grand Cherokee.[more]
But the Jeep brand was being undermined by pricing discounts and by a proliferation of models that seemed to leave American consumers a bit confused and frustrated. So Fiat determined to weed out some models, such as the Jeep Commander, to boost the actual quality of the remaining nameplates and to use marketing to improve the perceived value of Jeep products and its brand.
Mission accomplished. The newly upscale Jeep brand just posted its best October since 2006 and its 18th consecutive month of year-over-year sales. Brand sales were up by 25 percent for the year to date. The resurgence is being led by Compass, a compact model that was heavily redesigned to boost quality. A new Grand Cherokee, introduced about a year ago, led the vanguard of vastly improved new products and is still garnering new awards. And the Wrangler — even before the new Call of Duty version — is garnering industry and publication awards as well.
Of course, the buzz about the Call to Duty-branded Wrangler — the second time a real-world Jeep edition has been created for the game, following last year’s special edition — adds another twist to Jeep’s renaissance. But surely it won’t be the last.
Below, watch a highlight reel from the Jeep Ops Experience at Activision’s Call of Duty XP event in Los Angeles, September 2nd and 3rd. At Camp Tread, two Jeep convoys brought a select group of Call of Duty fans on a pulse-pounding off-road adventure, re-inventing the test-drive — over water and up 30-degree inclines — in a hyper-realistic Jeep and Call of Duty immersion.