จันทร์ที่ , 29/12/2551
เวลา : 17:02
อ่านแล้ว = 990 ครั้ง
The Jeep Unity Club (JUC) was formed by enthusiasts seven years ago when DaimlerChrysler, the US auto marque's parent company, began winding down its interest in the Thai market. The club is very much 'run from the heart', according to Rungchai Jantasing, one of its founders.
Rungchai said the club really got off the ground after the group of enthusiasts established an online community in 2001.
Jeep stopped promoting itself in Thailand due to the economic crisis in 1997, Runchai said.
While Jeep's service centers quickly began to close down, Rungchai and nine other enthusiasts decided that they weren't just going to give up on their beloved vehicles. Their passion for the classic American vehicle drove them to seek out local producers of Jeep spares. The most practical way of establishing a channel of communication on the subject was the Internet, and it has remained 'home' to this group of enthusiasts ever since.
The 10 founders launched the JUC website in 2001. One year later 200 enthusiasts had signed up, and now there are 3,500 members, which accounts for over 50% of all Thai Jeep owners. Since it is a non-profit organization, membership of JUC is free.
Business or commercial activities are strictly prohibited, according to Rungchai, and so any approach regarding matters of a commercial nature would immediately affect the instigator's membership status.
If this is not respected, the person involved will have their membership terminated with immediate effect, Rungchai says.
The JUC organizes an official meeting for members every three months, during which participants can exchange spare parts, or share knowledge on matters relating to vehicle upkeep and maintenance.
One of the most successful aspects of this activity has been an initiative that has been able to save a huge amount of money among members. A Jeep's Engine Control Unit (ECU), is an intelligent but costly component. While it would normally cost up to 40,000 baht (US$1,135) to replace one, thanks to a group of canny club members with a background in engineering, JUC members can now replace the part for just 15 baht ($0.42). A special meeting was arranged to demonstrate the breakthrough among members based in the capital, and this event was recorded so that members based in the provinces could also benefit from this development.
As well as sharing information and expertise of a technical nature, members of the JUC also get the chance to join weekly adventure- or entertainment-based activities. Regular weekly off-road trips are particularly popular among JUC members, according to Rungchai.
We have two kinds of off-road trip, he said. The first is a pretty tough adventure in areas that are difficult to reach. These are limited to a group of professional drivers who own specially-modified vehicles. The second type is a family-oriented trip.
When it comes to visiting areas that are difficult to reach, JUC usually has to first seek permission from the officials responsible, such as an office of the border control police, or the forestry department, in order to access routes normally reserved for use by officials only. One of the objectives of this kind of visit is to take necessities, such as food or other provisions, to officials based in these isolated areas.
We have strict rules for the sake of preserving the natural habitats, Rungchai says. We won't stray away from the official route and explore areas in which we could harm the natural habitat, making sure we leave nothing behind.