Everyone is praising Ford as the first major automaker to tie up with Google on autonomous cars. But being the first in the auto industry isn’t always a blessing. There have been many times when cars (and car companies) have been too far ahead of the curve.
Jeep, for instance, comes to mind with their efforts of getting into the Chinese car market. As CarNewsChina recounts, AMC brought the Jeep XJ over to China all the way back in 1983, with joint-venture production starting in ‘84. China was still just getting introduced to cars at that point, and it was a long way away from its own SUV boom. By the time that rolled around, the Jeep was seen as old and stodgy, as Peter Hessler explained in his book on the car in China, Country Driving.
So the XJ just plodded along as a workmanlike vehicle, getting built all the way into the 2000s and even later as the Beijing Auto Works Knight S12 (pictured above), never quite being a hit, but never quite dying off either.