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Brand is important asset either for a sale or to get automaker through rough period.

Jeep. It's the original sport utility vehicle, known around the world for its durability and rough off-road capabilities. From its rugged World War II military provenance to its 21st century line of clothing, outdoor gear and other consumer goods, Jeep is one of the strongest American brands.

For the past two decades, the iconic brand has belonged to Chrysler LLC, but as the Auburn Hills automaker struggles amid sagging sales of its gas-guzzling trucks and vans, analysts and others are wondering if the time has come for the company to shed Jeep. Jeep, some contend, is Chrysler's most valuable asset, perhaps worth more than the rest of the privately held company.

"At this point, it's hard to say what positive value Chrysler has," said Gerald Meyers, chairman of the former American Motors Corp., which owned Jeep until Chrysler snapped up AMC in the late 1980s. "But Jeep is worth a lot -- it's the sole clear-cut jewel in their crown ... that can be isolated and sold as a unit, without being much concern if Chrysler survives or not."

With Chrysler burning through cash at a rate that Wall Street says will have the automaker looking for additional funding in the next 12 months, the automaker might need to sell an asset like Jeep to stay afloat, but might not be able to survive without the brand.

Still, the brand's value gives Chrysler owner Cerberus Capital Management LP a valuable asset to market to a potential partner or to auction off should the company decide to break apart the automaker.

Complete Article Link: Jeep still strong as Chrysler slumps
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