Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jeep Wrangler is One of the Most Truly Made-in-America Cars

Jeep Wrangler's assembly line in Toledo, Ohio, USA
The Wall Street Journal has published a list of the top-5 most truly made-in-America cars and trucks, and the Toledo, Ohio-built Jeep Wrangler is on that list.  Due to multiple ties in rank, the top-5 list actually encompasses 13 vehicles, but the point is clear that the Jeep Wrangler is a very American-made vehicle.

One would typically think that it's to be expected that an American vehicle brand that assembles vehicles in American factories would naturally mean that the vehicle is "American," but the reality is that the auto industry sources components from suppliers all over the globe, with sub-assemblies produced nearly anywhere, and final assembly occurring in factories all around the world.  In the Wall Street Journal's words,
Domestic brands have the most American-made content in the U.S. according to a new index released by American University’s Kogod School of Business. Professor Frank DuBois, a global supply chain management expert, led the analysis, which considered not only where each vehicle’s parts were produced, but also the location of the manufacturer’s headquarters and other details, all in an effort to help consumers buy American.  
“If you break down a single ‘American-made’ transmission, you’ll find many smaller parts, each stamped with its own country of origin. You may well find 80% of the parts inside that transmission didn't come from the U.S.,” said Dubois.
Of the 253 total vehicles indexed, the Jeep Wrangler is tied for 4th place as the most overall America-made vehicles.

Friday, May 24, 2013

JPFreek Spring 2013 Issue - It's Free and Good!

JPFreek Adventure Magazine has just published their Spring 2013 issue, and in my opinion it's their best issue yet.  It includes articles about a budget Wagoneer, Nicole Johnson's ReadyLift Wrangler, Mopar Underground's six Jeep concept vehicles, and a hardcore CJ-8 Scrambler.  They covered two big events: Easter Jeep Safari and Tierra del Sol Desert Safari.  They also have a number of great tech articles on batteries, trail fixes, and offroad Jeep gear.  Best of all, the publication is free!  Click here to read.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jeep Assembly Plants to Remain Open Through the Summer

Wards Auto is reporting that Chrysler's Jeep assembly plants in Detroit (Grand Cherokee) and Toledo (Wrangler) will remain open through the summer instead of closing like usual for a brief summer break as with the majority of the auto maker's other facilities.  Fiat/Chrysler has been struggling to keep up with North American demand for the two popular Jeep models, and with the brand's explosive growth in Europe and China they need all the production capacity they can come up with to keep up with demand.

Engine and transmission assembly plants will also remain operating to continually supply these components to the vehicle assembly plants.

I've reported before about the insatiable demand for the Wrangler, so it's nice to see Jeep's employees will be able to take advantage of extra work while many other Americans are continue to hurt for employment during this recession.

Teraflex's Overland JK Wrangler

Teraflex put together this great video of their Overland-style JK Wrangler with footage from Easter Jeep Safari in Moah, Utah and the Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Jeep Builds its One Millionth Wrangler JK

The 1 Millionth Jeep Wrangler JK:
A 10th Anniversary Rubicon Unlimited
Jeep held a small ceremony on their Wrangler assembly line this morning to celebrate the completion of their 1 millionth Jeep Wrangler JK since production of the 2007-present model-year Jeep commenced in late 2006.  Autoblog, The Toledo Blade, Toledo News Now, and countless other news sources picked up the story after Chrysler Communications made a small post on their Facebook page.

The 2012 model year was a strong one, with 140,000 Wranglers rolling off the assembly line.  The Wrangler is Jeep's most popular model ever, with over 4 million of the vehicles produced since their inception in 1986 as a modernized Jeep CJ.

When asked about the consistently strong demand for the Wrangler, the Toledo Assembly Complex's Plan Manager Zach Leroux was quoted as saying:
"The changes that we made to the interior in 2011 and the powertrain in 2012, the demand for the vehicle is just absolutely endless.  It's a gorgeous vehicle."
WTOL produced the following news report showing the One Millionth Wrangler rolling off the assembly line:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Big Bear Jeep Jamboree USA 2013

Rebel Offroad produced the above video on the Jeep Jamboree USA event at Big Bear in Southern California.

As always, leave it to Jeep Jamboree to put on a killer show. This was the 21st annual Big Bear trek - making it one of the longest running continuous trips Jeep Jamboree USA offers. With over 150 vehicles in attendance and 350+ smiling faces, turnout this year was stellar as expected.

The Rebel group broke off into 3 trails ensuring they got a chance to meet almost everyone that showed. "Tree Line" follows the Red Group with Trail Guide and Rebel Leader Bond Gilmer as the "modified" class tackled John Bull, Holcomb Creek, Gold Mountain, and Dishpan Springs.

Jeep Jamboree is a unique organization. Not only do they provide fantastic off road training and advice, but they teach land use and responsible wheeling. Rebel Offroad is a national sponsor this year and looks to be continuing partnership with them into the future.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

3 People Survive a Severe Rollover Accident in their Jeep Wrangler

Several news stories have appeared online to report on a horrific accident involving an inexperienced driver and the results of his poor judgement.

The photos you see above show what's left of the family's 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK after it rolled over 20 or more times down the hill pictured below.  The driver, Michael Fertitta, is a New Jersey detective for the Passaic County Police Department, and he is facing charges of child endangerment, among others, for nearly killing his wife and 6-year-old son. 

From the Herald article:
Glancing up, Hayes spotted the 2007 Jeep Wrangler — with a married couple from Vernon and their 6-year-old son inside — beginning its terrifying, unfathomable descent down the steepest of Mountain Creek's 42 ski trails.
"I must have seen this thing tumble 20 times in the air," Hayes, 57, a married father of two from Hamburg, said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
"It was spinning three or four times in the air, before it came down and went up again," Hayes recounted.
Hayes later rescued the boy, who was thrown from the Jeep, and helped guide rescuers to the wreck — evading a large bear along the way.
All three family members survived the crash, which drew attention well beyond Vernon.
Many Jeep internet forums have discussed the wreck and members have weighed in with their comments.  It's wrong to pass judgement on what happened without knowing all the facts, but it's undeniable that in this instance the driver made a series of mistakes that led to this accident.  Four wheeling is a dangerous sport, but it's no more dangerous than driving on the highway, and responsible drivers have a much smaller chance of being involved in a wreck than an irresponsible driver.

The safety of the vehicle's occupants and those around the vehicle are all in the driver's hands.  Be careful out there.

 Here are two videos of the New Jersey Herald's interview with Thomas Hayes:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

AEV's Oregon Dunes Customer Tour

Based on the popularity of American Expedition Vehicles' inaugural Oregon Dune Tour in 2012, AEV decided to bring the event back for a second year at the spectacular Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area in Florence, Oregon. This was a great opportunity for a handful of AEV customers to experience the beauty of Oregon's coastal sand dunes while also receiving some instruction on off-road driving and recovery techniques from AEV Director of Sales and I4WDTA Certified Trainer, Chris Wood.


AEV posted a small write-up on their website with a number of additional photos, and posted the accompanying video on YouTube:

Sand is one of the few types of terrain where more power is always better.  In the video you can hear the wonderful HEMI-converted AEV Jeeps open up their throttles and let the big V8s power the Jeeps up the soft sand dunes.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Has the Forest Service Lost its Purpose?

As our federal government continues to break down in a systematic agency-by-agency failure, the United States Forest Service has of course been doing its part to screw the citizens.  Everyone knows this is nothing new, but their recent revisions to their Planning Handbook shows just how far the USFS has drifted from their originally-intended purpose.

The revision to the Handbook has been kept quiet, but the BlueRibbon Coalition has put great effort into addressing the recreating public's concerns.  They published a blog entry that gives a basic explanation of the Handbook and its implications, along with links to their comments and legal efforts.  Whether you know it or not, the BlueRibbon Coalition is fighting every day to protect your right to responsibly recreate on the public lands your tax dollars fund.  They are a nonprofit organization that operates from membership dues and donations - please join or donate!

BRC's Executive Director Greg Mumm wrote:
We hope that interested officials, agency employees, organizations and individuals dedicated to active and continuing use of the Forest System can put differences aside to give rebirth to visions of Pinchot, Roosevelt, and Leopold and create a Forest System that includes meaningful use by the American public. The core vision is valid, but its current implementation is taking the agency in a different direction.

Top-Five Most Affordable 4x4s

Four Wheeler Magazine has published an article entitled New 2013 4x4s - Buying Power: The Top 5 least Expensive 2013 SUV's & Pickups in which they list and describe the most affordable SUVs and Pickups.  Claiming the top two spots in the SUV list, the Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited have again demonstrated that they provide the most bang-for-the-buck.

Of the 2-door Wrangler, they wrote:
It's pretty amazing that one of the most off-road-ready SUVs on the planet is also the least expensive. Among other things, you get the 3.6L 24-valve V-6 engine that makes 285hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, a six-speed manual transmission, Command-Trac 4WD system, 3.21:1 axle ratio, black interior, your choice of 10 exterior colors, cloth seats with adjustable headrests, steel wheels, P225/75R16 on/off-road tires, fog lamps, UConnect 130 CD/MP3 radio, front floor mats, tow hooks, and even cruise control and audio controls mounted on the steering wheel. You won't get air conditioning, but you can just put the soft top down anyway.

And here's their discussion of the 4-door Wrangler Unlimited:
Yep, the Wrangler brand dominates the top two most inexpensive SUV spots. The Unlimited gets you two more doors than its sibling the Wrangler and a lot more interior space. Like the Wrangler, it is one of the most off-road-capable SUVs available. Features on the Unlimited Sport model include the 3.6L 24-valve V-6 engine that generates 285hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, a six-speed manual transmission, Command-Trac 4WD system, 3.21:1 axle ratio, black interior, your choice of 10 exterior colors, cloth seats with adjustable headrests, 16-inch steel wheels, P225/75R16 on/off-road tires, fog lamps, UConnect 130 CD/MP3 radio, floor mats, tow hooks, and cruise control and audio controls mounted on the steering wheel. A retractable Sunrider soft top is included. 
Of course, purchasing a used vehicle generally returns an even higher bang-for-the-buck, and Wranglers have higher resale value than any of their competitors which oftentimes skews the numbers in favor of another vehicle, but you're not going to be able to buy a more capable out-of-the-box vehicle than a Wrangler.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Discrimination Against Mechanized Recreation

Quietly enjoying quiet backcountry motorized recreation in my Jeep . . .
. . . and bothering nobody else in the process!

I recently read a terrific article written by Amy Granat, Managing Director of the California Off-Road Vehicle Association which was published in the latest CORVA Off-Roaders In Action Newsletter (May 2013 issue).  I wanted to share it here because she makes some terrific points about an irritating issue within land management circles, and she presents it with beautiful eloquence:

No More Quiet Recreation
By Amy Granat, CORVA Managing Director

It is an insidious term, “Quiet Recreation”. Upon first hearing it, one could imagine a pastoral setting, with birds chirping and the sound of wind rustling through the trees. Oftentimes I have enjoyed the sounds of nature while driving my 4WD through a forest, marveling at the myriad of noises one can hear while traveling down a road, believing myself engaging in my own special form of peace and solitude.

But “Quiet Recreation” has quite a different meaning when it comes to land use planning efforts by federal agencies. As little as 10 years ago, this terminology did not exist. There was an understanding among land managers that public land should be dedicated to a myriad of uses, and some of those uses involved machinery of different kinds. Whether a chainsaw, a 4WD vehicle or a dirt bike, it was understood that public land was working land. After all, mining and timber harvesting was part of the reason public land was codified; to make sure the benefits from public land would be available to all Americans.

“Quiet Recreation” has become common terminology among land use managers because anti-access groups have introduced the phenomena, and it has spread like wildfire, because it is hard to respond to this seemingly benign request.

To say motorized recreation advocates want “Noisy Recreation” makes us sound callous and uncaring about the spectacular sceneries we find on public land. The call for “Quiet Recreation” has also become a subtle way to demean or degrade any type of motorized access. At its very core is a strong reek of discrimination against the use of motorized vehicles on public land. And with the mask of civility removed, it becomes clear that activities using motorized and mechanized equipment are being reduced to second-class citizens in the eyes of public land managers.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jeep Beach 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida

The 10th Anniversary of Jeep Beach in Daytona Beach, Florida was the biggest one yet.  This week-long event easily qualifies as one of the biggest Jeep events in the world.  While the natural terrain may not offer any challenge, the organizers build bigger and better man-made courses in the Daytona Speedway infield to challenge Jeeps of every level of modification, although this is more of a social event than a hardcore 4wheeling trip.

Jeep Beach offers an opportunity to hang out with thousands of like-minded Jeep fans from all across America in a fun, relaxing environment - no matter what level of experience you have or number of modifications your Jeep has.

Rebel Offroad produced a great video showing the highlights of the week:

MetalCloak was also in attendance and produced a video of their own: