China's Great Wall Motors Co. Completely Open About Its Desire to Purchase Jeep, But Not FCA

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
chinas great wall motors co completely open about its desire to purchase jeep but

In the week that’s elapsed since initial reports surfaced of a Chinese automaker planning a takeover of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Geely, Dongfeng, and Guangzhou Automobile Group have all taken themselves out of the running.

Automotive News now reports, however, that the seventh-largest automaker in China, Great Wall Motors Company, has a keen interest in FCA, which has long courted unwilling suitors.

There’s one outstanding issue. Great Wall Motors Co. is open about its desire to acquire Jeep as part of a mission “to become the world’s largest SUV maker,” but Great Wall doesn’t want FCA’s other, far less valuable entities.

Through its Haval brand, China’s Great Wall already greatly prioritizes SUVs. Of the 1.1 million vehicles Great Wall Motors sold in 2016, 85 percent were utility vehicles.

It’s not surprising that Great Wall would have a desire to acquire Jeep without the Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, and Ram divisions clinging to the a seven-slat grille. According to recent Morgan Stanley reports, Jeep is worth roughly $33.5 billion. FCA, including Jeep, is worth $32 billion.

You do the math.

Because of Jeep’s current successes and huge global potential, Great Wall Motors Co. is surely not the only company that would happily take Jeep off FCA’s hands. Great Wall may nevertheless be the company that is most transparent about its interest in one of America’s most storied brands.

Great Wall Motors’ president, Wang Fengying, spoke candidly via email with Automotive News about her company’s intention to pursue a purchase of FCA’s Jeep brand, which accounted last year for 37 percent of FCA’s U.S. sales and 30 percent of the automaker’s 4.7 million global sales. Great Wall spokesperson Xu Hui doubled down.

“We are deeply interested in the Jeep brand,” Hui said. Can Great Wall even afford to buy Jeep? “We can make use of our accumulated profits as well as our access to the capital market to make the deal happen,” Hui tells Autmotive News.

Great Wall has, of course, had plans in the past that did not pan out. Wang Fengying said nearly a decade ago that Great Wall would be selling vehicles in the United States in 2013. It’s now 2017. Look around. See any Great Wall Motors Co. dealers? No.

Furthermore, standing in Great Wall’s way will be numerous other automakers which — if Jeep truly is available as a standalone, isolated, one-off sale — would be more than happy to take the SUV brand off FCA’s hands. Whether FCA has the desire to do so on financial terms is one factor that has likely already been considered. Whether FCA has the will to extricate Jeep from FCA’s tentacles is another major wrench in the works.

Weng Fengying isn’t the only automotive boss with heady goals. Fengying wants Jeep so Great Wall can be the world’s largest SUV maker. FCA’s Sergio Marchionne, meanwhile, believes Jeep is the one brand that could claim 20 percent of the global auto market, more than 12 times its current share.

[Image: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars, FCA]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Th009 Th009 on Aug 21, 2017

    To everyone suggesting that Toyota, Honda or Mazda should buy FCA (or even just Jeep), think back to the last time a Japanese company acquired a foreign auto manufacturer, and how that turned out. That's right.

  • Erikstrawn Erikstrawn on Aug 22, 2017

    Why doesn't Fiat/Chrysler follow Great Wall's lead? Start trimming off the car market and roll Jeep and Ram into one brand - Jeep. Start selling Dodge Rams as Jeep Rams. Drop the Hellcats and Demons and start making Raptor competitors. Sell the rights to the remaining Dodge platforms to whoever is willing to pay - including the Pacifica. Take a write-off on the Charger/300 platform - you've made your money on it already. Move anything luxurious to Alfa and focus on improving the customer experience. Screw the dealers. It's not like they've worked hard to keep people interested in your brand. I'm sure there are a few shining examples out there, but good luck finding them.

  • Oberkanone Installing immobilizer is the answer. It's not hard. It's not expensive.
  • MrIcky Out of the possible Jeep recalls to bring up on this site, I'm surprised it's this one and not round 2 of the clutch recall.
  • Dukeisduke I saw a well-preserved Mark VII LSC on the road not too long ago, and I had to do a double-take. They still have a presence. Back when these were new, a cousin of mine owned an LSC with the BMW turbo diesel.
  • Dukeisduke I imagine that stud was added during the design process for something, and someone further along the process forgot to delete it after it became unnecessary.
  • Analoggrotto Knew about it all along but only now did the risk analysis tilt against leaving it there.
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