The CEO of Jeep parent company Stellantis said Wednesday he would be open to dropping the Cherokee name from its line of SUVs following demands to do so late last month from the leader of the Cherokee Nation.
Carlos Tavares, who serves as the head of the newly formed Stellantis NV out of a merger between Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot-maker PSA, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that the company has been involved in ongoing discussions with the Native American tribe.
When asked by the WSJ if he would be willing to change the Jeep Cherokee’s name if pushed to do so, Mr. Tavares said, “We are ready to go to any point, up to the point where we decide with the appropriate people and with no intermediaries.”
“At this stage, I don’t know if there is a real problem. But if there is one, well, of course we will solve it,” Mr. Tavares said, adding that he wasn’t personally involved in the talks.
The principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin Jr., publicly demanded that Jeep change the name of its Cherokee and Grand Cherokee vehicles, telling Car and Driver magazine, “it’s time for both corporations and team sports to retire the use of Native American names, images and mascots from their products, team jerseys and sports in general.”
Stellantis defended the use of the name in a statement to the Times last week, writing, “Our vehicle names have been carefully chosen and nurtured over the years to honor and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess and pride.”
The WSJ reports the Jeep Cherokee and the Grand Cherokee SUVs account for about 43 percent of Jeep’s sales in its largest market, and a new redesign of the Grand Cherokee scheduled for later this year.