Jeep denied the rumors swirling on Monday after Great Wall Motor Company confirmed ‘an intention to acquire’ the American off-road icon.
Shares of Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) jumped yesterday. Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor Co. wants to bid for the company’s flagship model, Jeep.
In an email to Automotive News, Great Wall president Wang Fengying said her company was “connecting with FCA” with intent to take over the Jeep brand. According to the report, Great Wall’s interest is specifically in Jeep. Questions remained for the potential fate of FCA’s other makes, Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram.
Rumors intensified after follow-up statements confirmed Fengying’s email.
“We currently have an intention to acquire,” one Great Wall official told Reuters regarding FCA. And Great Wall Spokesperson Xu Hui reaffirmed the brand’s intent:
“Our strategic goal is to become the world’s largest SUV maker,” Hui told Automotive News. “Acquiring Jeep, a global SUV brand, would enable us to achieve our goal sooner and better.”
“[FCA] has not been approached by Great Wall Motors in connection with the Jeep brand or any other matter relating to its business.”
News of the buyout comes just a month after Cars.com crowned Jeep “The Most American” vehicle on the road. According to the ranking, Jeep has more domestic parts and supports more American jobs than any other vehicle.
Great Wall’s interest in Jeep specifically is understandable. Morgan Stanley valued the Jeep brand alone at $24 billion. That’s more than $4.5 billion higher than FCA as a whole.
Further fueling speculation is FCA’s own CEO, Sergio Marchionne, who has expressed an interest in a merger at some point before retiring in 2019.
The future of Jeep is unclear. But given the brand’s value, it seems unlikely a buyout would significantly change the American icon—at least on the surface.