By on November 28, 2011

Earlier on, I had written an article at my website about how AM General had helped China develop its Humvee-clone, the Dongfeng EQ 2050. AM General was not the only American company that hand a hand in arming the Chinese army. There was another one: Chrysler.

Beijing-Jeep was a Chinese-American joint venture with Beijing Auto Works (BAW) and Chrysler. The Chrysler-based Beijing-Jeep 2022 shown above later changed its name to Beijing 2022. It now is the most widely used 4×4 in the Chinese army.

How did all this happen?

To gain a better understanding, we need to go back in time, all the way to 1983. Beijing Auto Works and Jeep-maker American Motors Corporation (AMC) had signed an agreement to make the Jeep Cherokee in China. In 1985, the first Cherokees rolled down the line in the new factory in Beijing.

The 50-50 joint venture not only made the Cherokee, the Chinese side added the old Beijing 212, renamed Beijing-Jeep 212. The 212 was designed for the Chinese army. Its design was based on the Russian UAZ-469. While the Cold War was still in full swing, a 4×4 made from American parts and a 4×4 with its roots in Russia were produced side-by-side in China

In 1986, the Beijing-Jeep joint venture developed a Jeep Comanche-based prototype for the Chinese army. A single Comanche was brought to China from the U.S. In the end, nothing came of it. There was a feud between both partners about the terms of production for the Comanche, and the Red Chinese Comanche was never built. In the meantime, production of the Cherokee and the military 212 continued unabated.

A year later, Chrysler bought AMC and became the new owner of the 50 percent share of the Beijing-Jeep joint venture. Chrysler was busy at home, and did not get overly involved with things in China.

In 1999, Chrysler agreed to supply the Cherokee’s 2.5 four-cylinder for the aging 212, which was renamed 2020.

The slow times ended when Beijing-Jeep brought the ‘Warrior C1′ concept to the 2002 Beijing Auto Show. It was designed by a new ‘Beijing-Jeep Research & Design Center’ in Beijing, The C1 was based on the Cherokee. The Warrior C1 was powered by Jeep’s 4.0 liter six-cylinder engine.

The Chinese army became very interested. It needed a replacement for the 212/2020. The cold warhorse had become long in the tooth, even with the Cherokee’s 2.5 under the hood. The army requested the Beijing-Jeep joint venture to make a proposal. Beijing-Jeep supplied several prototypes (the picture shows one of them). All were based again on the Cherokee.

The first prototypes were too small and too flimsy for the Chinese army’s taste. Beijing-Jeep was sent back to the drawing board to come up with something more substantial.

Beijing-Jeep developed the Beijing-Jeep 2022. It was still based on the Cherokee, but had added girth and length. The design was inspired by the Warrior C1. Chief designer of the C1/2022 was an American citizen of Chinese descent, Edward Wong, who worked at the Beijing-Jeep design center.

The Beijing-Jeep 2022 was powered by a 3.2 6-cylinder diesel from Nissan. The Chinese army wanted a big diesel, but Jeep didn’t have one, and neither did Beijing Auto. The joint venture therefore bought the engines from the Dongfeng-Nissan joint venture, which makes cars, light-trucks, and Nissan-developed diesel engines for those trucks. In an indirect way, Beijing-Jeep was buying the engines from China’s alleged arch-enemy Japan.

The Chinese army didn’t have any ideological problems with an American-inspired truck powered by a Japanese-designed engine. The Chinese army liked the 2022 a lot, and in 2005 decided to go for it. Production began and deliveries started slowly in late 2007.

There you have it. The Beijing-Jeep 2022, nicknamed Yongshi (Brave Warrior), armed the Chinese army. It is based on the American icon Jeep Cherokee, it was designed by an American citizen, and powered by a diesel with Japanese DNA.

The story however, doesn’t end here.

In 2009, Chrysler was at the height of its financial trouble in the U.S. For some strange reason, Chrysler decided to abandon the Beijing-Jeep joint venture. As part of the deal to get out as soon as possible, Chrysler granted BAW the rights to continue the Cherokee and 2022 under its own name. After some name changes, the Cherokee became the BAW Qishi S12. The 2022 simply became the Beijing 2022. Both cars are still in production today and deliveries of the 2022 to the Chinese army have continued ever since.

To end this story, here are some pictures of the 2022 ‘Yongshi’ on active duty:

The open version at the 2009 October parade.

That’s not a Direct TV antenna.

Convoy duty.

Peacekeeping in the mud, for UNMIL in Liberia.

With the big guns, somewhere up north.

Dutchman Tycho de Feyter runs Carnewschina, a blog about cars in China, from Beijing, China. He also collects die-cast models of Chinese cars.

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35 Comments on “Tycho’s Illustrated History Of Chinese Cars: How Chrysler Helped To Arm The Chinese Army...”

  • avatar

    “Males and Females aged 16-49 fit for military service”:

    USA: ~120 million
    PRC: ~618 million

    In a hypothetical shooting war with China with full drafts instituted, Chrysler’s collaboration would be least of our problems. Unless we even the odds with the help of our allies:

    India: ~489 million
    Japan: ~43 million

    • 0 avatar

      Who cares about the number of soldiers?
      In an hypothetical war between USA and China, it would be a nuclear warfare and all these 738 million soldiers would be wiped out in an instant.

      • 0 avatar

        Ummm… we have ALREADY fought TWO wars with China: the “Korean” War and the “Vietnam” War… and BOTH wars were fought with conventional weapons…

      • 0 avatar

        The Korean war certainly turned into a war with China but Vietnam was a bit more complex and didn’t really involve actually fighting with a ton of Chinese soldiers like Korea did. I think in Vietnam it was more about the communist powers backing one side and the capitalist powers backing the other side. But the Vietcong had their own beef with China anyways so it wasn’t really quite like Korea.

        And in reality our generals actually wanted to turn Korea into all out nuclear warfare, but the Soviets actually called Truman up and told us that if we went nuclear on China they’d go nuclear on us in retaliation.

    • 0 avatar

      Please engage brain before posting comments. Thank you.

    • 0 avatar

      That was a bit of tongue-in-cheek there.

    • 0 avatar

      Matt Eckert: What about Europe?

      Col. Andrew Tanner: I guess they figured twice in one century was enough. They’re sitting this one out. All except England, and they won’t last very long.

      Matt Eckert: Well, who is on our side?

      Col. Andrew Tanner: Six hundred million screamin’ Chinamen.

      Darryl Bates: Well, last I heard, there were a billion screamin’ Chinamen.

      Col. Andrew Tanner: There were.

  • avatar

    This isn’t earth shattering news by any means. Going back to WW2, GM was heavily involved with the buildup of the Third Reich. GM made it possible for the Nazis to invade Europe and Russia with the production of the Opel Blitz truck.

    History has a tendency of repeating itself.

    • 0 avatar

      It is sort of like when US management negotiates with organized labor. They always prioritize short term profits over long term annihilation. One could argue that the Chinese aren’t as opposed to America’s founding principles as the unions are.

    • 0 avatar

      The Blitz was not only a commercial truck first and foremost, but it also significantly predated the Nazis’ rise to power, so it was clearly not developed for an enemy country’s armed forces, even if it subsequently found use there.

      • 0 avatar

        The Blitz truck, regardless of its beginnings had a significant impact on both invasions as the supply lines for both invasions were vitally important to their success or not.

        It took the cooperation of GM and the Nazis to produce these trucks in adequate numbers in order for Germany to have a successful campaign. By the time Operation Barbarossa came into fruition, Germany still didn’t have enough trucks and used whatever they had at their disposal and took equipment from the French and British forces that were left at Dunkirk. Some German forces went so far to call themselves a traveling band of gypsies with their odds and ends trucks, which is laughable considering what they were doing to the gypsies at the time.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah, so this was why the tactics of the invasion of France (1940) and Russia (1941) were known as the ‘Blitz-Kreig’. The invasions were only made possible by a design of truck which predated the Nazi party rise to power – I see, this completely passed me by whilst reading about WW2.
      It obviously had nothing to do with superior training of the German armed forces at the time, or their better use of combined arms (tanks/aircraft/infantry) in fast moving formations compared to their opposition who were still planning for a trench war.
      GM producing the Opel Blitz for the Nazi war machine obviously had such an effect considering the fact that a majority of German artillery and ordnance throughout WW2 was hauled by horses – not trucks.
      Puh-lease. Major corporations throughout history have produced equipment for the ‘goodies’ and the ‘baddies’. Non of which on it’s own has ever truly been war-winning.

  • avatar

    What was the cause for the Soviet Union’s fascination with big whitewall tires? And why is China still doing it?

  • avatar

    Too bad the CIA didn’t arrange for Chrysler to give them the Sebring – the automotive equivalent of Stuxnet.

  • avatar

    2020? Blue camouflage. Is this the year and the paint scheme to be used for the invasion of Taiwan?

    In the mid to late 1990’s I recall seeing several of the BJC old school units in the customs yard of our general importer in Romulus Mi. I imagine these were on their way out to the Jeep/Truck PlymouthnRd. Eng. Ctr.

  • avatar

    So in other words, then the $ collapses, and China decides to ‘cash in’, we’ll see one or ten of these on every main street in the United States.

    And ‘we’ helped build it, as in AMC pre-Chrysler.

    God help us.

  • avatar

    IMO, the 2022 Yongshi is a pretty cohesive, handsome design, with the same stubborn slab-sidedness that makes the G-wagen still popular to this day. Certainly better looking than Butterballs like the current Infiniti QX and Toyota Sequoia. I wonder if there’s any symbolism in the “five square” grille design, or if it was just chosen to differentiate itself from Jeep/Humvee’s seven slots.

  • avatar

    The ruminations about a US/China military conflict are quaint.

    China holds so much in US bonds now that just threatening to not buy them at the next auction, or — God forbid — dump the ones they currently hold would pretty much destroy our economy.

    They’ve also gotten pretty sharp with cyber warfare, building backdoors into embedded processors, that sort of thing.

    Any war between the US and China won’t be fought with anything as cute as a Jeep.

    But that’s not to say we shouldn’t sell them the parts to make what they need to oppress their own citizens and such. Hey: There’s a dollar to be made in death trucks.

  • avatar

    When will the 2022 ‘Yongshi’ be available here? I want one!

  • avatar
    Creature of the Wheel

    Quick, order whitewall tires for our Humvees. Gentlemen, we cannot allow a whitewall gap!

  • avatar

    Big whitewall tires are the only thing that the Soviets and ChiComs got right !

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      …..the one in the first photo features the latest breakout tire technology……Raised White Letters…..another decadent Western capitalist marketing device. Like whitewalls, it’s hard to figure out their use on military equipment, although they will look snazzy in Victory parades.

  • avatar

    What an interesting story – thanks for posting it.

  • avatar

    Makes me wonder what other odd combinations of companies and vehicles and armies exist in other countries.

    I’m sure European companies will have similar situations.

  • avatar

    I’m ready to folk over $ for Chinese made diesel Jeep. Please don’t bother sending Cherry, Geely, Great Wall and so on across the pond.

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