Building cars is hard. They’re so full of little parts and big parts and all of them have to go together just so or everyone starts complain about panel gaps or the way trunk lids close or any number of other fussy details. It all seems extraordinarily difficult. Then, there are some aspects to building cars that don’t seem all that hard, the sorts of jobs you could probably pull off in your driveway with a ruler and a bit of care. It’s those things that Jeep seems to be struggling with, at least if this picture of a brand-new Wagoneer is to be believed.
I first encountered this image in a post on the TriangleRAD Facebook group, and it was re-posted in various places, like here:
From what I was told, this image was taken at Stellantis’ Warren Truck plant, and the image was taken during the Wagoneer’s pre-delivery inspection. I wouldn’t guess that it passed that inspection.
If you’ve ever been to a car factory, you may have seen how car badges like that W A G O N E E R are applied to a car. The factories use little jigs, plastic alignment tools, to make sure that the badging is in the proper place, and if you’re using such a tool, the whole process is pretty idiot-proof. There’s only one place to stick the badging, and it’s all set up and aligned.
Here’s a couple examples of what I’m talking about:
See how those align to body panels or other shutlines so the badges can only be placed in the proper location? Jeep must have tools like these. Which makes it all the more baffling how a screw-up like the one seen there can happen.
What’s crazy about this Wagoneer badge botch is that it doesn’t even really look to be exactly like just a mis-aligned jig; the letters aren’t even at the wrong angle, they appear to actually kind of curve and meander across that tailgate:
How does this even happen? I think even if you were just putting the letters on there one at a time, eyeballing it, it would turn out better than that. Are blindfolded cats being trained for this job?
I reached out to a Jeep PR person to try and find out more, interrupting the poor person on their vacation for this nonsense. They were kind enough to reach out to the factory to get an answer:
Early during the launch of the Wagoneer, Warren Truck did experience some issues with badge alignment. Those issues were corrected at the plant before any vehicles were shipped to customers, including the one pictured in this internal photo. As a permanent solution, hand-applied locating fixtures as well as machine vision systems were installed to verify badge alignment. The plant has a robust vehicle audit process that ensures every vehicle leaving the plant reflects the premium quality of the brand.
So, good on Jeep for just admitting this was an issue, and it looks like it’s been taken care of, and, unsurprisingly, a car that looks like this didn’t make it out of the factory because, come on, that’s really not going to happen. I hope.
If anything, I guess this is a good reminder that car-making is hard, even the parts that look like they should be easy. That, and I guess shit happens in factories that doesn’t always conform to rational explanation.