THE SHOP

March '18

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MARCH 2018 THE SHOP 17 O ne iconic vehicle brand has done more to illustrate the fun of off- roading than any other on the road—or in the dirt. That would be the Jeep, since its utilitarian introduction during World War II, over 75 years ago. The marque has changed owners, been offered in over a dozen models and spawned an almost countless number of aftermarket parts for its followers. When they say It's a Jeep thing, they aren't kidding. The name, reputation and even the spirit has led the way for off-roaders across the globe. The Jeep market is vibrant, timely and its owners possess an almost implau- sible level of loyalty. Quite the market, indeed, and one that warrants study on a regular basis. We called on shops selling and installing Jeep parts to ask about how the brand has changed, what customers want, and how they predict the brand-new Wrangler JL will affect the market heading into the spring selling season. UNCHARTED TERRITORY We started with the Jeep market and how it's changed over the past five to 10 years. Sara Morosan, co-owner/sales manager of LGE-CTS Motorsports, gives her view from California. "Besides the crazy amount of product that is available for the Jeep. I would say that a lot more consumers are getting into Jeeping that I wouldn't normally see get into Jeeps," she says. "Jeeps have always been a great family hobby on so many dif- ferent levels. I'm seeing more and more consumers realize that the Jeep is just an all-around great vehicle and is easy for everyone to drive." Rebeca Olavarrieta, general manager of Roco 4x4 in Florida, says the market has evolved along with the vehicles. "When we first opened our doors in 2006, the TJ was considered in South Florida the optimal platform for any off- road enthusiast to build their dream 4x4," she recalls. "When the JK came out, it was equipped with state-of-the-art technology, compared to its predecessor, and this sleek- yet-rugged look captured the attention of many that before were not appealed to by the Wrangler. From celebrities to first-time vehicle owners, the JK seemed to be the top choice." The aftermarket, she believes, has played a role in that popularity. "It was now possible to customize this iconic vehicle to a very personal extent," she explains. "Customization on Wran- glers used to be focused on function, such as stronger steering components, reliable RIDING HIGH By John Carollo Things continue to look up for today's Jeep market. The new Wrangler JL is expected to boost an already robust Jeep aftermarket. (Photo courtesy Jeep/Mopar) MARCH 2018 THE SHOP 17

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