Chrysler To Kill Jeep Wrangler?

Months ago we broke the news of the death of the Viper. Now, documents from the Chrysler bankruptcy cast doubt on the future of the Jeep Wrangler. Is somebody in Auburn Hills taking crazy-pills?

Killing off weak models in order to save the strong is something Chrysler is going to have to do if it ever wants to be a profitable automaker again, but considering putting the Wrangler on such a sacrificial altar is something we would never have guessed. The quintessential Jeep and lone buy-able product in the brand stable is being sited as a case study in why selling off the brand will be difficult for Chrysler, with financial and restructuring consultant Robert Manzo writing in the filings:

Liquidation of Chrysler assets "assumes that certain car lines and the plant assets supporting them will be sold as going-concern enterprises. These lines include Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Viper and Dodge Ram and Dakota truck lines."The example of the Jeep Wrangler is instructive, a potential buyer would face significant additional investment costs in the range of $550 million to $1 billion.

"These additional costs include in excess of $100 million for signage to establish a dealer network, supplier-related costs exceeding $250 million and upwards of another $150 million in associated marketing costs to relaunch the car line. There are likely other significant costs that a potential buyer would have to incur in order to re-establish the brand. In addition, recent market experience reflected in the efforts to sell Saturn, Opel, Saab and Hummer brands indicates an extremely depressed market for stand-alone automotive brands."

Yes all that money mumbo-jumbo makes sense, but at the same time it doesn't. Wrangler is the Jeep brand. Without the Wrangler as its core product, the brand has no credibility and no purpose and is just another builder of bloated SUVs. We can understand the Viper getting the axe as it's a halo car, and more often than not they cost more to build than they make. The Wrangler on the other hand, if killed, we'd imagine the Jeep brand would not be long for this world. Hopefully Chrysler, in it's moment of panic, does not kill the unkillable brand. [Edmunds Inside Line]