DETROIT -- Jeep will reach out to owners and prospects with an eight-city national tour called "Camp Jeep on the Road."
The free two-day events are designed to keep Jeep customers loyal and to woo prospects by creating an experience that reflects the Jeep brand, the company says.
"It's important to have a dialogue with our owners," says Lou Bitonti, Chrysler group senior manager of Chrysler and Jeep brand events. "Jeep owners are more participants than spectators.
"We want them to stay within the family. Why lose a customer and try to win them back if we can keep them right now?"
Bitonti wouldn't reveal spending for the program.
Camp Jeep on the Road takes place on a weekend. Participants test drive Jeeps by navigating obstacles such as steep grades, rocky trails and log crossings. Trained instructors guide drivers.
A street course offers everyday driving tips such as safe acceleration and steering and braking techniques on a variety of surfaces, the company says.
Vehicles include the Wrangler, Liberty, Grand Cherokee and the newest addition to the Jeep lineup, the 2006 Jeep Commander.
'Experience the brand'
Jeep "lifestyle activities" are part of the event, Bitonti says: "We try to give them an opportunity to experience the brand."
The activities include mountain biking, bungee jumping and wall climbing. A "Jeep Kidz" area lets youngsters drive toy Jeeps.
A Jeep Owners playground allows drivers to test their own vehicles on various obstacles.
Camp Jeep allows owners to put Jeeps through their paces.
"There is no sales pitch," Bitonti says. "It is strictly, 'Here is who we are, and here is the product line. And we'd like you to think about us, and consider us when you are ready to buy.' "
Camp Jeep on the Road begins Memorial Day weekend in Virginia Beach, Va. The tour continues through Sept. 24.
Stops include Atlanta; Milwaukee; Buffalo, N.Y.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Houston; San Diego; and Denver.
Jeep 101 successor
Camp Jeep on the Road is an evolution of Jeep 101, a series of events Jeep sponsored for six years, Bitonti says.
The "Camp Jeep on the Road" name was chosen to benefit from the cachet Jeep has achieved with the Camp Jeep owner gathering, the company says. The 11th annual Camp Jeep will be held in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania Aug. 13 and 14. Camp Jeep is for Jeep owners only.
The event offers 4x4 trail rides, off-road driving courses, concerts, more than 150 activities and the finals of the Jeep King of the Mountain Biking World Championship.
Among the activities are kayaking, climbing, hiking, flycasting, scuba diving and paintball.
The tag line for Camp Jeep on the Road echoes the Camp Jeep lifestyle, the company says. Jeep is promoting the On the Road tour as "on the move, and every bit as muddy."
You may e-mail Mary Connelly at [email protected]