You may have heard recently about the controversy surrounding the use of the name Cherokee by Jeep. Through its leader, Chuck Hoskin Jr., the Cherokee Nation has stepped forward and explicitly asked Jeep to stop using the name. It was a request the automaker “respectfully declined” to act on, Automotive News reported last week.
Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that the idea has not yet been dismissed by Stellantis' senior management, or by the company’s big boss Carlos Tavares.
Tavares said, however, that he is not sure that “there is a real problem” with the use of the Cherokee name. He promised the dispute will be resolved if there is one: “If there is one [problem], well, of course, we will solve it.” For now, he sees in the name “nothing negative”, adding that the Cherokee name symbolizes Jeep’s way of “expressing our creative passion, our artistic capabilities”.
Jeep has been using the Cherokee name since 1974, though not continuously. In 2013, on the eve of the return of a model adopting it for 2014, the Cherokee Nation told the New York Times that it had not been consulted. The revived Cherokee came to replace the Liberty in the automaker’s lineup.
Carlos Tavares went on to say that Stellantis and Jeep were “ready to go to any point – up to the point where we decide with the appropriate people and with no intermediaries”. The automaker is, he added, fully aware that this is a subject it must approach with caution given the popularity of Cherokee and Grand Cherokee models in the lineup. Add to this the arrival of a new variation in the family, the Grand Cherokee L, for 2022.
The resumption of discussions between Stellantis and the Cherokee Nation stems from a statement made by Chuck Hoskin Jr. in February: “I'm sure this comes from a place that is well-intended, but it does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of a car.”
Making a name change would be a major and delicate operation for Jeep. What will the final decision be? Are we heading towards a financial agreement? Will Jeep go with another name in its history to deal with what comes next? Many questions remain unanswered for the moment.
It shouldn't be long before we know for sure, though. One thing is certain, Jeep will not bring back the Comanche name, that of another nation, which was used in the late 1980s and early 1990s.