Jeep has been using the "Cherokee" moniker since 1974 and today it's found on a couple of its popular SUVs. In 2013, during the final days of the Chrysler Group era before the merger with Fiat, the Cherokee Nation told The New York Times it had not been consulted before Jeep reintroduced "Cherokee" in the United States as a replacement for the Liberty.
Now under the Stellantis umbrella following the FCA-PSA merger, Jeep is facing increasing pressure to drop the nameplate. Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation principal chief, told Automotive News earlier this week that Jeep "respectfully declined" to make the name change. However, The Wall Street Journal, after talking with Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, is now reporting this radical option has not been ruled out entirely.
Gallery: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L
While the head honcho of the world’s fourth-largest car manufacturer is not certain whether "there is a real problem" regarding the use of the "Cherokee" name, he promises the dispute will be settled should there be one: "If there is one [problem], well, of course, we will solve it." For now, he's not seeing “anything that would be negative," adding that the Cherokee badge represents Jeep's way of "expressing our creative passion, our artistic capabilities."
Carlos Tavares went on to say Stellantis and Jeep are "ready to go to any point – up to the point where we decide with the appropriate people and with no intermediaries." The automaker is fully aware it's a topic it needs to tread lightly given the popularity of the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. Not only that, but there's a new seven-seat Grand Cherokee L for 2022MY, which it too would have to get a new name.
The renewed discussions between Stellantis and the Cherokee Nation stem 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." A fresh name would be a huge undertaking for Jeep in terms of marketing, but it looks like Carlos Tavares is open to the idea of rebranding its successful SUVs.