By JANET GARNERA, AP Sports WriterSAN FRANCISCO — In this season of the wet-weather, athletic wear brands are facing an existential crisis.
The wet-winter is upon us, says John Deere.
And the brand is no exception.
“When the weather warms up, we will be at our full potential,” says Deere, president of Deere Crop Service.
“I have never seen the kind of performance we’ve seen in the wet season before.”
In some ways, the wet year will be a new experience for Deere and the other athletic wear companies.
In the past, the companies have had to adjust to changing seasons.
But they’re in a better place now, said Deere of a “perfect storm” of conditions.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, Deere is predicting more than 1 million acres of snow, more than 2 inches of rain and winds that reach 90 mph.
The first week of the season is the first chance for many companies to get into the sport.
Deere is in the middle of a four-week training camp for its new F-150 truck and its new 4Runner, the only trucks on the road that use Deere’s advanced tire technology.
It is a time when the industry’s leaders have to change and adapt to the changes that will happen.
In some cases, Delegatization is already underway.
Last summer, the American Society of Civil Engineers published a study predicting a wet-season for the U.S. auto industry.
The group said there would be a 1.4% reduction in the U, U.K., France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.
In North America, the study projected a 0.6% decrease.
The impact will be felt most heavily in the truck segment, where a few of the biggest companies are still working on their next generation of truck designs.
The most popular of those is the Jeep Wrangler.
“We’re going to see a lot of performance improvements in the Wrangler,” said Jannick Stirling, Jeep senior vice president for global truck development.
Jannick is referring to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is the model most likely to see the most significant improvements.
Jeep is planning to bring in a 4Runner version of the Wranger next year.
Stirling said that could help Jeep make its Jeep Wranglers more affordable.
For Deere Sports, the Wrangler will be the “biggest impact,” Stirling told the AP.
The company has a long history of designing the F-Series, and the Wrangelys will be its biggest sales force.
“It’s not just the truck,” Stirl said.
“It’s the truck.”
In addition to the Wrangs, other models in the lineup will get more aggressive handling and a wider array of tires.
“We’ll be getting a lot more tire options,” Stroud said.
Some companies are already making changes.
Deere Sport is preparing to retire its popular T-Series SUV and sell it to a rival, a decision that will benefit the Jeep brand.
The T-series is the company’s most popular SUV.
Stirling said the company plans to continue using the T- and S-series models for new trucks and will use a different model to compete in the sport utility vehicle segment, which also includes vans, SUVs and sport utility trucks.
The company has also upgraded the Wrungler’s transmission to a hydraulic version, a move that will help it better handle the snow, ice and hail that can come from the mountains.
“You know, if you’re a manufacturer that has been making trucks and SUVs, you’re going back and doing that,” Stairs said.
“The next generation Wrangler will probably be better in a lot areas.”
The changes also will benefit smaller companies that rely on one brand’s vehicles to grow.
Delegating of ownership will help.
The F-350, for example, is owned by Chrysler.
Chrysler has the right to sell Wrangler vehicles to other companies.
The big question for some brands is how to adapt to changing conditions.
For instance, Stirling says the Jeep line will use some of the best technologies from the Jeep and Ram brand.
That includes Jeep’s Adaptive Suspension System, which helps drivers stay in control of the truck when it is wet.
The technology also is in place on the new Dodge Ram 2500.
Stirl said Delegation will have a lot to live up to in the next couple of years.
He said De Legatization will make it easier for smaller companies to succeed.
The Delegator is the biggest challenge for companies like Jeep and Chrysler, he said.
But the company will still make its trucks.