JI Motor Company
|Founder(s)||Homar Jaffar, Omar Ismail|
JI Motor Company or JI is a private car company in Afghanistan, founded in 1988 by businessmen Homa Jafaar and Omar Ismail. It's known for its unique engineering ideas that set itself apart from other Afghan auto manufacturers. However, it's well known for producing quite a few lemons.
JI Little Man
The JI Little Man was the first car launched by JI in 1990. It was simply a re-badged Hyundai Excel shipped from South Korea to JI with some minor modifications.
The Little Man came with one cylinder of butane gas. The benefit of butane gas is its ability to combust, while it's cleaner burning and even cheaper than petroleum. In the event when there are shortages of petrol, for example when the area's under war, the car can simply run on butane gas. It came with a 4 speed manual transmission driving the front wheels and was only available with a 3 door hatchback or panel van body style.
The Little Man was a success story in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East. It was then sold in overseas markets, but was not as successful as in the domestic market. Production ended in 1997.
JI Fat Boy
The JI Fat Boy was the second car from JI and the only off-roader JI had. The Fat Boy is a re-badged Isuzu Mu (Isuzu Amigo in the US), but only came with a short wheelbase, 2 door version. Following the Little Man's success, the Fat Boy was launched in 1992.
It had a butane tank like the Little Man, but JI added extras including the world's first lithium battery, which is more powerful and efficient than a conventional car battery, but it costs more. It also had an aluminum fuel tank, a gas heater and a trip computer.
It was also sold in overseas markets, but fared worse than the Little Man in terms of criticisms from owners and motoring critics worldwide. Production ended in 2000.
In response of falling sales, increasing reliability problems and negative publicity, JI had to find another car, a more reliable, sophisticated and better car. The JI Wisdom looked to be the answer. It was a full-sized car which is a re-badged Dodge Intrepid sourced from Canada (NOTE: the Intrepid was sold as a Chrysler in Canada). JI had forbidden the idea of having a cylinder of butane gas because of safety issues but stuck with the idea of having a lithium battery and a newly improved trip computer. Production started in 1995.
The Wisdom turned out better than other JIs thanks to the removal of the butane gas tank and an improved trip computer, but other problems cropped up later. The problems were usually located in the engine, the cooling system and the transmission. The problems included blown head gaskets, blown spark plugs, punctured radiator hoses, overheating radiator and even a blown transmission.
With ever-growing problems, JI was under pressure to fix those problems. However, they turned out almost impossible to fix, so they ended production of the Wisdom and they declared bankruptcy by 2001.
It's been 5 years since JI Motor Company went under. However, someone had bought & restarted JI and production started with a JI Extreme. It isn't any ordinary car, but rather a "suicide" bombing car. JI gained permission from Volkswagen to produce Volkswagen Transporters as JI Extremes.
The Extreme had 6 cylinders of explosive Uranium, suicide seat belts, twin fertilizer airbags and a JIPS Navigator developed by JI. The JIPS is like many other GPS systems about except the system detects any nearby bombs and landmines. The mechanical specifications are the same as the VW Transporter. It can also do 0 to 100 victims in under 5 seconds.
The JI Extreme sparked sales from a successful ad campaign made by the Chaser in Australia. The Extreme is only sold in the Middle East, not elsewhere.
Though JI had long been producing passenger cars and even a few SUVs, they figured that they could make more money by entering the heavy-duty truck market. Thus, they obtained blueprints & tooling to produce the Autocar DC-64 under the JI nameplate, renamed the JI Goliath.
The Goliath is available with Detroit, Cummins or Caterpillar diesel engines equipped with uranium overhead injectors for increased performance & a fresh baked apple scent. It's also as tough & durable as the DC-64. Due to the increased cargo capacity over the JI Extreme, it can do 0 to 300 victims in 4 seconds.
The Autocar DC-64 was chosen for re-badging due to the US & Canadian presence in Afghanistan, so JI executives figured that an American rig would make the soldiers feel at home. Though the Goliath is only sold in the Middle East, it is mildly popular as a grey market import in the US & Canada thanks to soldiers returning home. Because of this, JI will start selling this truck in the North American market, even including a massive 8x8 model for the Canadian market.
Two billionaires, Homar Jafaar and Omar Ismail had been very interested in cars ever since they were young, so in 1988, they formed an automobile manufacturing plant in Afghanistan and named the company JI after their surnames (Jafaar Ismail). Jafaar and Ismail also hired Osama Habib as the CEO of the JI Motor Company. Initially, they employed 35 engineers and during a span of 2 years, engineers worked on new convenience options for the upcoming cars from JI.
In 1990, production commenced as JI gained permission from Hyundai to import the Excel to Afghanistan. JI did a few modifications to these cars and then they sold them as the JI Little Man. The cars were a success throughout the Middle East, costing 138 afghanis (about $6,000). JI Motor Company released the JI Fat Boy sourced from Isuzu in 1992.
Then, problems arose. Overseas, JI Little Mans developed problems, including gas tank leaks, some power loss and quality issues. JI Fat Boys on the other hand had worse problems. In cold regions, the heater malfunctioned. Elsewhere, it had engine and electrical problems caused by a lithium battery which was too powerful and a leaky gas tank just like the JI Little Man. These problems were responsible for a fire that destroyed a JI Fat Boy in Bulgaria.
JI had to find a more reliable car. Enter the JI Wisdom, a re-badged Dodge Intrepid. They stopped using butane gas for fuel, but they put in an improved trip computer. The JI Wisdom was an improvement in quality over the Little Man & Fat Boy, but problems still developed. Some experts believed that the Wisdom wasn't used to hot climates, even in Afghanistan. JI was under pressure from owners to fix the problems, which wasn't easy. They tried their best to fix them, which worked for a while, but not too long.
Another problem JI faced was trying to obtain the original cars they were sourcing from. With the JI Little Man, the original Excel ended production in 1994 so to keep it in production, JI had to build those cars themselves. The main issues were with poor build quality and a lack of refinement. When the first-generation Dodge Intrepid ended production in 1997, Dodge gave away its tools to JI for the Wisdom, which was an improvement over previous JIs but still had problems.
However, it wasn't enough to combat the negative publicity and comments from owners and even automotive critics. JIs were regarded as lemons. Homa Jafaar and Omar Ismail decided to give up and the JI Motor Company was forced to shut down at the end of 2001 .
5 years later, JI Motor Company re-opened and released the JI Extreme. The new workers were so-called "terrorists" who developed some car bomb prototypes, one of which was a JI Wisdom.
When the JI Extreme was launched, JI made their slogan "The Ultimate in Car Bombing Luxury."
JI made a foray into the commercial vehicle market with the JI Goliath, a re-badged Autocar DC-64. Because it reminded them of home, US & Canadian soldiers took kindly to these beasts & even managed to export a few back home. Today, the Goliath is mildly popular on the grey market.
- All JIs are sold in the Middle East.
- All JIs are sold in Russia, Kazakstan, Afghanistan, Mongolia and anywhere else except, India, China, Japan, North and South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
- The JI Fat Boy is sold in the north-west regions of Asia. The rest are sold as original Isuzu Mus.
- The JI Wisdom is sold in Afghanistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, the Philippines (Mindanao only) and Mongolia.
- All JIs are sold in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Austria, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Luxembourg, Italy and the United Kingdom. However, with issues of reliability and lack of service, the company withdrew from Europe and all cars were destroyed.
- Only the JI Little Man and Fat Boy are sold in Africa but only a few of them have survived.
- Due to the number of grey market imports, the JI Goliath is expected to be officially released in the USA and Canada.
Other JIs elsewhere were probably sold as grey imports.
JI Extreme ad campaign
The JI Extreme has a successful advert campaign made by the Chaser.
There have been major accidents resulting from JI vehicles. Here are the more well-known ones.
- On July 10, 1996, a couple from Romania traveled in a JI Fat Boy on vacation to Bulgaria. The car stopped moving and they saw some smoke coming from the dashboard. The smoke built up, forcing the couple to get out of the car. Seconds later, the car burst into flames and the whole car burnt to the ground while Bulgarian locals watched. This event was widely reported in the news all over the world and is also the most significant breakdown of a JI.
- On December 2, 1996, an Estonian farmer drove a JI Fat Boy down a cold, snowy countryside. He turned the heater on, but it didn't work for some reason. So he banged on the dashboard and tried turning on the heater again, when suddenly the heater spewed butane gas. The ignited gas erupted from the vents, and then Carbon Monoxide filled up and the driver coughed and got exhausted, so he had to pull over. As he tried to pull over, he went off the road and landed into a ditch. The driver, choked with Carbon Monoxide, immediately took off his seat belt, opened the door and got out. Later, the car blew smoke, but it got extinguished and towed away. The driver was treated for Carbon Monoxide poisoning and promised not to buy another JI again.
- On January 16, 1997, a JI Little Man was parked in a local parking garage in Zaire. 15 minutes later, the car caught fire. At 3 o clock, the owner of the Little Man found her burning vehicle. It was later extinguished by the fire brigade and the car was a total loss.
- On January 17, 1997, a french driver had an underpowered JI Little Man. When he tried driving it through the French Alps, it couldn't go uphill so it had to be in second gear to maintain its speed. In this situation, the Little Man went so slow that a driver in a Renault Twingo overtook him. Another owner found his car difficult to accelerate and had a parade of cars trailing him. One by one, they overtook him and harassed him by honking their horns at him. He refused to drive his JI after this incident.
- On September 5 2007, one day to the Melbourne Cup, The Veronicas were chauffeured in a JI Wisdom. By the time they passed the Victoria-New South Wales border, something went wrong. The car made clunking noises, the ride became rough, the car decelerated and gradually came to a stop. The car refused to restart and blew smoke into the cabin. The chauffeur got out of the car to have a look. Then, the girls started coughing as the smoke filled up and Jessica reached for the window switch, but nothing happened. She had to open the door to get out and her twin sister Lisa managed to get out, but she was in worse condition. Both had exhaustion and by the time the chauffeur opened up the hood and found that the smoke came from the transmission, he then started coughing and was poisoned by the smoke. One driver pulled up to see what happened and he offered the trio a ride to Melbourne. The chauffeur was in such bad condition that he was left in a hospital to recover. Meanwhile, the Veronicas were sent to the doctor for a check up and the doctor confirmed that they suffered a bit of poisoning from smoke inhalation. A couple of days later they had another check up to see how they were.
Investigators found that the automatic transmission of the Wisdom was blown, releasing burnt up fluids into the cabin. However the engine appeared to be okay. The car was then de-registered and crushed.
- A teenage girl in the United Kingdom purchased a JI Little Man on her probationary license, priced £88 ($143.75 US). She then suffered problems with her car and handed back the Little Man. She then purchased a Vauxhall Astra and loved it.
Luckily, no motorists have been killed due to the JI's unusual problems.
In some regions of the world, JIs had to be destroyed.
- A JI Wisdom in Australia had been crushed in Mansfield, Victoria, the very same car The Veronicas had traveled in to get to the Melbourne Cup.
- In 2002, in the United Kingdom, all JI owners drove their cars to London and then sent them to the local scrap yard.
- Motoring organizations in Germany, Austria, France and Italy called for all JIs tobe crushed.
- In America, all problematic JIs were scrapped and only a few still exist.
- Some bales of crushed JIs were shipped to Afghanistan to show dissatisfaction.
“Why should you ever buy one of those cars? They are a fiery pain in the arse!!”
“They're cars of mass destruction, particularly the Fat Boy!”
“It's chaos on wheels, and the chances are it could happen at any time.”
“These cars are cataclysmic!”
“Such poor commitment not only damages the reputation of automotive history, but it also costs JI it's reputation. A great deal of it!”
“They're just like time bombs on wheels!”
Other than the JI Extreme & Goliath, JI is planning some new models to be released in 2010.
Named after a gorilla with the 'ill' taken out, this will be JI's most ambitious vehicle to be released. Based on the Hummer, the design has been bought from General Motors as part of its resurrection from its Chapter 11 Bankruptcy as General Motors needed to sell its assets. This will be JI's second ever SUV carrying over features in the JI Extreme such as the JIPS Navigation System.
Inside, the Gora gets an 8 litre V8 linked with either a 4 speed syncromesh manual or an all-fluid automatic gearbox with the same gear ratios. Drive is through solid lead axle 4WD. It also has a catalytic uranium converter, a lithium battery to run the onboard electronics, suicidal seatbelt technology for all seats and the tyres with a boron compound with pure aluminium rims.
With more and more people joining the newly-reformed Iraqi police force, a specialized, low-cost, yet durable police vehicle is needed. Enter the JI Magnum. Also a former GM design, the Magnum is based on the famous Chevrolet Nova 9C1 police car. Unlike JI's previous automobiles, the Magnum is being designed with police forces in mind.
Under the hood, the Magnum is powered by a high-output 350 cubic inch V8 engine with a plutonium carburetor, though JI is also experimenting with an "Autoroutier" package that has been equipped with a 454 cubic inch V8 that has a radium carb. In addition to heavy-duty chassis & engine components, JI is also adding some of their own police-exclusive features as well. For example, the JIPS Navigation System has been specially modified for police use, boasting such features as the ability to track fleeing vehicles.
Speaking of the electrical system, the whole thing, including battery, alternators & wiring has been specially modified to handle any combination of lights, sirens and other electronics that the department may wish to install, no matter how heavy-duty they may be. When equipped with an electronic siren, the Magnum is also available with the "Park-Stop" feature, which shuts off the siren when the gearshift lever is set to "Park" (or "Neutral" for manual transmission models).
Given the environment that the JI Magnum will be policing, things will get tough. As such, the car will be equipped with special armor & bulletproof windows, offering great protection with minimal decrease in performance. There will also be special "Detective" & "Ambassador" packages with even more armor protection for special service units. All packages have increased chassis reinforcement for added protection against IEDs. The JI Magnum is set to be released in Afghanistan in 2014 after the troops were withdrawn and be sold to government officials and the police force.