Hollywood

Meet Poppy, the groundhog rescue that starred in Jeep's Super Bowl ad

Photo courtesy of FCA USA LLC

Poppy shot to fame starring in this year's Super Bowl commercial for the Jeep Gladiator with "Groundhog Day" actor Bill Murray as her sidekick. The 10-month old groundhog is more than just a celebrity starring in a commercial during the big game.

When a birth defect prevented her from living a full life in the wild, Poppy was rescued after being found end of a residence's driveway. She lives with a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in Pennsylvania, which is also the home of Punxsutawney Phil and the setting (though not the filming location) for the cult classic movie "Groundhog Day".

Poppy groundhog Jeep Gladiator Groundhog Day commercial 2020 The commercial co-stars veteran actor Bill Murray.Photo courtesy of FCA USA LLC

The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to return animals to the wild. However, as Poppy grew, it was determined by a team of veterinarians that Poppy suffers from a birth defect called Malocclusion. This defect prevents her from receiving sustinence via foraging in the manner of the typical groundhog because she cannot use her sharp incisors to eat or cut wood to build a den.

With that diagnosis, Poppy's care team had to decide between three different options: 1) euthanize her, 2) humanely extract her teeth or 3) submit her to continual painful dental procedures throughout her life, which was not in her best interest from a humane standpoint.

Because Poppy was otherwise strong and capable, the care team decided to humanely extract her teeth and use her as an educational ambassador for wildlife in the state.

The scenes of the commercial involving the groundhog were filmed using a real groundhog, stuffed animal groundhog, and an animatronic groundhog. Some CGI techniques were used in post-production.

Poppy groundhog Jeep Gladiator Groundhog Day commercial 2020 Poppy split starring duties with stuffed and animatronic groundhogs. Photo courtesy of FCA USA LLC

While filming the Jeep commercial, Poppy was under the constant care, supervision, and oversight of her handler/caretaker. Between takes she didn't go to her trailer and talk to her agent. Instead she ate banana chips and nestled on her caretaker's shoulders.

When Poppy isn't starring in commercials, she works as a state- and USDA-licensed educational animal.

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Larger tires headline the upgrades.

Jeep

The off-road wars are heating up. This year alone, we've seen the new Ford Bronco, Rivian's R1T electric pickup truck, new off-road models of the Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, and Chevrolet Silverado, and more rugged versions of the Subaru Outback and Forester. Jeep, already deep in the game, doesn't need to do much to bolster its off-road offering, but the brand is doing just that for 2022. The automaker is offering a new Xtreme Recon Package for the Wrangler Willys SUV, which brings more capability and style to the boxy off-roader.

Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package The package can be ordered for Wrangler Willys models later this year. Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package

Beyond beefy 35-inch tires tires, the Wrangler Willys with Xtreme Recon Package gets a 1.5-inch factory lift, a 4.56:1 axle ratio, 17-inch wheels and swing gate reinforcement. Jeep says those improvements give the Willys best-in-class approach and departure angles, ground clearance, and water fording capability. Approach angle improves to 47.4 degrees, breakover angle improves to 26.7 degrees, and departure angle jumps to 40.4 degrees. The extra ride height also pushes ground clearance to 12.9 inches and the water fording depth to 33.6 inches.

The package's 35-inch tires make the Willys Jeep's third Wrangler model with hardcore rolling stock. It joins the Wrangler Rubicon and Wrangler Rubicon 392 in the 35-inch club, all of which can be equipped with the tires directly from the factory.

Jeep Wrangler Willys Xtreme Recon Package A factory lift helps improve ground clearance and capability.Jeep

The Xtreme Recon Package can be ordered starting in October and will be available for the Jeep Wrangler Willys with 3.6-liter eTorque engine. The package adds $3,995 to the Wrangler Willys' price tag, which brings the total starting price to $40,930, including a $1,495 destination charge.

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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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