Amidst all this economical doom and gloom under these black clouds we seem to be seeing all the time, we've finally got wind of a silver lining. Normally this would end up in our "News" section, but when something this big, including photos, hits our desk, we just have to share. This could very well be the best time to be a Jeep enthusiast. This is almost like Jeeps in crates coming true.
Thanks to the whole bailout mess, Cerberus and General Motors are in the last legs of talks to join forces to become General Chrysler Motors, or GCM for short. The only two stumbling blocks are the Dodge and Jeep brands. GM doesn't want competition for either Hummer or for GMC. We don't know what might happen to Dodge, but our sources, who were previously deep inside Chrysler before the last round of layoffs, tell us of some news. General Chrysler Motors will be announcing, as soon as the merger is final, that it has sold the Jeep brand off to International.
The new International Jeep Corporation will kill off the Patriot, Commander, and Compass for the 2010 model year. The Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, and Liberty will carry on with a few changes. The Diesel Grand Cherokee will retain the 3.0L diesel engine and the gas engine options. International has signed a contract to keep all current key Chrysler employees and to option the Chrysler engines for up to 5 years. The Grand Cherokee redesign will get pushed back a few years. Meanwhile the Liberty will also be offered with the 3.0L V-6 diesel package. International aims to bring the cost of the package down through greater numbers.
Meanwhile, big news for the Wrangler in 2010. The IFS platform redesign to begin in 2013 has been sent back to the drawing board indefinitely, and in addition to a 5.7L hemi option in the JK under the same 5-year contract, International will offer the 3.0L V-6 found in the Grand Cherokee and the 4.5L V-6 Maxxforce Navistar diesel engine with an Allison 1000 five-speed transmission.
By increasing the quantity of the 3.0L Mercedes diesels purchased, International has brought the package price that it pays Mercedes down from the $5,500 Chrysler was paying to $3,300. Initially the package will be available in the Wrangler and Liberty for around $3,000, while the price will remain unchanged in the Grand at $1,500. The 4.5L package in the Wrangler will be a $4,000 option.
The other immediate change is that all Jeep models will be available with a Rubicon package featuring front and rear lockers, a 4:1 transfer case, and electronic sway bar disconnects. The only exception being the diesel powered Jeeps, which will see the stock 2.72:1 low range with a center locking differential in the NV245OR transfer case. Additionally, the Rubicon Package on the Grand Cherokee and the Liberty will feature a 1 1/2-inch lift reminiscent of the Up-Country package of yore. This lift will clear 245/75R17 BFG MT KM2 tires for both the Liberty and the Grand Cherokee.
Future plans, our source tells us, are to discontinue the Liberty name and call it the Cherokee again both overseas and in the US. Other changes are solid axles under the front of the next generation Grand Cherokee and Liberty. Also, a full-size Scout (think 2-door SUV), Carryall (think full-size truck), and Travelall (think 4-door SUV) are rumored to be up and coming prototypes.
We can't wait to see Jeep actually get back to its roots with solid front axles and the addition of diesel engines.