1943 trademark application|
1945 first civilian Jeep launched
|Headquarters||Toledo, Ohio, U.S.|
Michael Manley (CEO of Jeep division)|
Sergio Marchionne (CEO of FCA US LLC)
Sport utility vehicles|
|Owner||Fiat Chrysler Automobiles|
Jeep is a brand of American automobiles that is a division of FCA US LLC (formerly Chrysler Group, LLC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Italian-American corporation Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Jeep has been a part of Chrysler since 1987, when Chrysler acquired the Jeep brand, along with remaining assets, from its previous owner: American Motors Corporation (AMC).
Jeep's current product range consists solely of sport utility vehicles and off-road vehicles, but has also included pickup trucks in the past. Some of Jeep's vehicles--such as the Grand Cherokee--reach into the luxury SUV segment, a market segment the Wagoneer is considered to have created. Jeep sold 1.4 million SUVs globally in 2016, up from 500,000 in 2008, two-thirds of which in North America, and was Fiat-Chrysler's best selling brand in the U.S. during the first half of 2017. In the U.S. alone, over 2400 dealerships hold franchise rights to sell Jeep-branded vehicles, and if Jeep were spun off into a separate company, it is estimated to be worth between $22 and $33.5 billion--slightly more than all of FCA (US).
Prior to 1940 the term "jeep" had been used as U.S. Army slang for new recruits or vehicles, but the World War II "jeep" that went into production in 1941 specifically tied the name to this light military 4x4, arguably making them the oldest four-wheel drive mass-production vehicles now known as SUVs. The Jeep became the primary light 4-wheel-drive vehicle of the United States Army and the Allies during World War II, as well as the postwar period. The term became common worldwide in the wake of the war. Doug Stewart noted: "The spartan, cramped, and unstintingly functional jeep became the ubiquitous World War II four-wheeled personification of Yankee ingenuity and cocky, can-do determination."
The Jeep marque has been headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, ever since Willys-Overland launched production of the first CJ or Civilian Jeep branded models there in 1945. Its replacement, the conceptually consistent Jeep Wrangler series, remains in production since 1986. With its solid axles and open top, the Wrangler has been called the Jeep model that is as central to the brand's identity as the rear-engined 911 is to Porsche.
At least two Jeep models (the CJ-5 and the SJ Wagoneer) enjoyed extraordinary three-decade production runs of a single body generation. Jeeps have since the war inspired a number of other light utility vehicles, such as the Land Rover. Many Jeep variants serving similar military and civilian roles have since been designed in other nations.
When it became clear that the United States would be involved in the European theater of World War II, the Army contacted 135 companies to create working prototypes of a four-wheel drive reconnaissance car. Only two companies responded: American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland. The Army set a seemingly impossible deadline of 49 days to supply a working prototype. Willys asked for more time, but was refused. The Bantam Car Company had only a skeleton staff left on the payroll and solicited Karl Probst, a talented freelance designer from Detroit. After turning down Bantam's initial request, Probst responded to an Army request and began work on July 17, 1940, initially without salary.
Probst laid out full plans in just two days for the Bantam prototype known as the BRC or Bantam Reconnaissance Car, working up a cost estimate the next day. Bantam's bid was submitted on July 22, complete with blueprints. Much of the vehicle could be assembled from off-the-shelf automotive parts, and custom four-wheel drivetrain components were to be supplied by Spicer. The hand-built prototype was completed in Butler, Pennsylvania and driven to Camp Holabird, Maryland on September 23 for Army testing. The vehicle met all the Army's criteria except engine torque.
The Army thought that the Bantam company was too small to supply the required number of vehicles, so it supplied the Bantam design to Willys and Ford, and encouraged them to modify the design. The resulting Ford "Pygmy" and Willys "Quad" prototypes looked very similar to the Bantam BRC prototype, and Spicer supplied very similar four-wheel drivetrain components to all three manufacturers.
1,500 of each model (Bantam BRC-40, Ford GP, and Willys MA) were built and extensively field-tested. After the weight specification was revised from 1,275 lb (578 kg) to a maximum of 2,450 lb (1,110 kg) including oil and water, Willys-Overland's chief engineer Delmar "Barney" Roos modified the design in order to use Willys's heavy but powerful "Go Devil" engine, and won the initial production contract. The Willys version became the standard Jeep design, designated the model MB and was built at their plant in Toledo, Ohio. The familiar pressed-metal Jeep grille was a Ford design feature and incorporated in the final design by the Army.
Because the US War Department required a large number of vehicles in a short time, Willys-Overland granted the US Government a non-exclusive license to allow another company to manufacture vehicles using Willys' specifications. The Army chose Ford as a second supplier, building Jeeps to the Willys' design. Willys supplied Ford with a complete set of plans and specifications. American Bantam, the creators of the first Jeep, built approximately 2,700 of them to the BRC-40 design, but spent the rest of the war building heavy-duty trailers for the Army.
Final production version Jeeps built by Willys-Overland were the Model MB, while those built by Ford were the Model GPW (G=government vehicle, P designated the 80" wheelbase, and W = the Willys engine design). There were subtle differences between the two. The versions produced by Ford had every component (including bolt heads) marked with an "F". Willys also followed the Ford pattern by stamping its name into some body parts, but stopped this in 1942. The cost per vehicle trended upwards as the war continued from the price under the first contract from Willys at US$648.74 (Ford's was $782.59 per unit). Willys-Overland and Ford, under the direction of Charles E. Sorensen (Vice-President of Ford during World War II), produced about 640,000 Jeeps towards the war effort, which accounted for approximately 18% of all the wheeled military vehicles built in the U.S. during the war.
Jeeps were used by every service of the U.S. military. An average of 145 were supplied to every Army infantry regiment. Jeeps were used for many purposes, including cable laying, saw milling, as firefighting pumpers, field ambulances, tractors and, with suitable wheels, would even run on railway tracks. An amphibious jeep, the model GPA, or "seep" (Sea Jeep) was built for Ford in modest numbers but it could not be considered a huge success--it was neither a good off-road vehicle nor a good boat. As part of the war effort, nearly 30% of all Jeep production was supplied to Great Britain and to the Soviet Red Army.
The Jeep has been widely imitated around the world, including in France by Delahaye and by Hotchkiss et Cie (after 1954, Hotchkiss manufactured Jeeps under license from Willys), and in Japan by Mitsubishi Motors and Toyota. The Land Rover was inspired by the Jeep. The utilitarian good looks of the original Jeep have been hailed by industrial designers and museum curators alike. The Museum of Modern Art described the Jeep as a masterpiece of functionalist design, and has periodically exhibited the Jeep as part of its collection.Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Ernie Pyle called the jeep, along with the Coleman G.I. Pocket Stove, "the two most important pieces of noncombat equipment ever developed." Jeeps became even more famous following the war, as they became available on the surplus market. Some ads claimed to offer "Jeeps still in the factory crate." This legend persisted for decades, despite the fact that Jeeps were never shipped from the factory in crates (although Ford did "knock down" Jeeps for easier shipping, which may have perpetuated the myth).
The Jeepney is a unique type of taxi or bus created in the Philippines. The first Jeepneys were military-surplus MBs and GPWs, left behind in the war-ravaged country following World War II and Filipino independence. Jeepneys were built from Jeeps by lengthening and widening the rear "tub" of the vehicle, allowing them to carry more passengers. Over the years, Jeepneys have become the most ubiquitous symbol of the modern Philippines, even as they have been decorated in more elaborate and flamboyant styles by their owners. Most Jeepneys today are scratch-built by local manufacturers, using different powertrains. Some are even constructed from stainless steel.
After World War II, Jeep began to experiment with new designs, including a model that could drive under water. On February 1, 1950, contract N8ss-2660 was approved for 1,000 units "especially adapted for general reconnaissance or command communications" and "constructed for short period underwater operation such as encountered in landing and fording operations." The engine was modified with a snorkel system so that the engine could properly breathe under water.
In 1965, Jeep developed the M715 1.25-ton army truck, a militarized version of the civilian J-series Jeep truck, which served extensively in the Vietnam War. It had heavier full-floating axles and a foldable, vertical, flat windshield. Today, it serves other countries, and is still being produced by Kia under license.
Many explanations of the origin of the word jeep have proven difficult to verify. The most widely held theory is that the military designation GP (for Government Purposes or General Purpose) was slurred into the word Jeep in the same way that the contemporary HMMWV (for High-Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle) has become known as the Humvee. Joe Frazer, Willys-Overland President from 1939 to 1944, claimed to have coined the word jeep by slurring the initials G.P. There are no contemporaneous uses of "GP" before later attempts to create a "backronym."
A more detailed view, popularized by R. Lee Ermey on his television series Mail Call, disputes this "slurred GP" origin, saying that the vehicle was designed for specific duties, and was never referred to as "General Purpose" and it is highly unlikely that the average jeep-driving GI would have been familiar with this designation. The Ford GPW abbreviation actually meant G for government use, P to designate its 80-inch (2,000 mm) wheelbase and W to indicate its Willys-Overland designed engine. Ermey suggests that soldiers at the time were so impressed with the new vehicles that they informally named it after Eugene the Jeep, a character in the Thimble Theatre comic strip and cartoons created by E. C. Segar, as early as mid-March 1936. Eugene the Jeep was Popeye's "jungle pet" and was "small, able to move between dimensions and could solve seemingly impossible problems."
The word "jeep" however, was used as early as World War I, as US Army slang for new uninitiated recruits, or by mechanics to refer to new unproven vehicles. In 1937, tractors which were supplied by Minneapolis Moline to the US Army were called jeeps. A precursor of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was also referred to as the jeep.
Words of the Fighting Forces by Clinton A. Sanders, a dictionary of military slang, published in 1942, in the library at The Pentagon gives this definition:
This definition is supported by the use of the term "jeep carrier" to refer to the Navy's small escort carriers.
Early in 1941, Willys-Overland demonstrated the vehicle's off-road capability by having it drive up the steps of the United States Capitol, driven by Willys test driver Irving "Red" Hausmann, who had recently heard soldiers at Fort Holabird calling it a "jeep." When asked by syndicated columnist Katharine Hillyer for the Washington Daily News (or by a bystander, according to another account) what it was called, Hausmann answered, "It's a jeep."
Katharine Hillyer's article was published nationally on February 19, 1941, and included a picture of the vehicle with the caption:
Although the term was also military slang for vehicles that were untried or untested, this exposure caused all other jeep references to fade, leaving the 4x4 with the name.
The "Jeep" brand has gone through many owners, starting with Willys-Overland, which filed the original trademark application for the "Jeep" brand-name in February 1943. To help establish the term as a Willys brand, the firm campaigned with advertisements emphasizing Willys' prominent contribution to the Jeep that helped win the war. Willys' application initially met with years of opposition, primarily from Bantam, but also from Minneapolis-Moline. The Federal Trade Commission initially ruled in favor of Bantam in May 1943, largely ignoring Minneapolis-Moline's claim, and continued to scold Willys-Overland after the war for its advertising. The FTC even slapped the company with a formal complaint, to cease and desist any claims that it "created or designed" the Jeep -- Willys was only allowed to advertise its contribution to the Jeep's development. Willys however proceeded to produce the first Civilian Jeep (CJ) branded vehicles in 1945, and simply copyrighted the Jeep name in 1946. Being the only company that continually produced "Jeep" vehicles after the war, Willys-Overland was eventually granted the name "Jeep" as a registered trademark in June 1950. Aside from Willys, King Features Syndicate has held a trademark on the name "Jeep" for their comics since August 1936.
Willys had also seriously considered the brand name AGRIJEEP, and was granted the trademark for it in December 1944, but instead the civilian production models as of 1945 were marketed as the "Universal Jeep," which reflected a wider range of uses outside of farming.
A division of FCA US LLC, the most recent successor company to the Jeep brand, now holds trademark status on the name "Jeep" and the distinctive 7-slot front grille design. The original 9-slot grille associated with all World War II jeeps was designed by Ford for their GPW, and because it weighed less than the original "Slat Grille" of Willys (an arrangement of flat bars), was incorporated into the "standardized jeep" design.
The history of the HMMWV (Humvee) has ties with Jeep. In 1971, Jeep's Defense and Government Products Division was turned into AM General, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Motors Corporation, which also owned Jeep. In 1979, while still owned by American Motors, AM General began the first steps toward designing the Humvee. AM General also continued manufacturing the two-wheel-drive DJ, which Jeep created in 1953. The General Motors Hummer and Chrysler Jeep have been waging battle in U.S. courts over the right to use seven slots in their respective radiator grilles. Chrysler Jeep claims it has the exclusive rights to use the seven vertical slits since it is the sole remaining assignee of the various companies since Willys gave their postwar jeeps seven slots instead of Ford's nine-slot design for the Jeep.
Jeep advertising has always emphasized the brand's vehicles' off-road capabilities. Today, the Wrangler is one of the few remaining four-wheel-drive vehicles with solid front and rear axles. These axles are known for their durability, strength, and articulation. New Wranglers come with a Dana 44 rear differential and a Dana 30 front differential. The upgraded Rubicon model of the JK Wrangler is equipped with electronically activated locking differentials, Dana 44 axles front and rear with 4.10 gears, a 4:1 transfer case, electronic sway bar disconnect and heavy duty suspension.
Another benefit of solid axle vehicles is they tend to be easier and cheaper to "lift" with aftermarket suspension systems. This increases the distance between the axle and chassis of the vehicle. By increasing this distance, larger tires can be installed, which will increase the ground clearance, allowing it to traverse even larger and more difficult obstacles. In addition to higher ground clearance, many owners aim to increase suspension articulation or "flex" to give their Jeeps greatly improved off-road capabilities. Good suspension articulation keeps all four wheels in contact with the ground and maintains traction.
Useful features of the smaller Jeeps are their short wheelbases, narrow frames, and ample approach, breakover, and departure angles, allowing them to fit into places where full-size four-wheel drives have difficulty.
After the war, Willys did not resume production of its passenger-car models, choosing instead to concentrate on Jeeps and Jeep-branded vehicles, launching the Jeep Station Wagon in 1946, the Jeep Truck in 1947, and the Jeepster in 1948. An attempt to re-enter the passenger-car market in 1952 with the Willys Aero sedan proved unsuccessful, and ended with the company's acquisition by Kaiser Motors in 1953, for $60 million. Kaiser initially called the merged company "Willys Motors", but renamed itself Kaiser-Jeep in 1963. By the end of 1955, Kaiser-Frazer had dropped the Willys Aero, as well as its own passenger cars to sell Jeeps exclusively.
American Motors Corporation (AMC) in turn purchased Kaiser's money-losing Jeep operations in 1970. This time $70 million changed hands. The utility vehicles complemented AMC's passenger car business by sharing components, achieving volume efficiencies, as well as capitalizing on Jeep's international and government markets. In 1971 AMC spun off Jeep's commercial, postal and military vehicle lines into a separate subsidiary, AM General - the company that later developed the M998 Humvee. In 1976 Jeep introduced the CJ-7, replacing the CJ-6 in North America, as well as crossing 100,000 civilian units in annual global sales for the first time.
The French automaker Renault began investing in AMC in 1979. During this period Jeep introduced the XJ Cherokee, its first unibody SUV; and global sales top 200,000 for the first time in 1985. However, the replacement of the CJ Jeeps by the new Wrangler line in 1986 marked the start of a different era. By 1987, the automobile markets had changed and Renault itself was experiencing financial troubles.
At the same time, Chrysler Corporation wanted to capture the Jeep brand, as well as other assets of AMC. So Chrysler bought out AMC in 1987, shortly after the Jeep CJ-7 had been replaced with the AMC-designed Wrangler YJ. After more than 40 years, the four-wheel drive utility vehicles brand that had been a profitable niche for smaller automakers, fell into the hands of one of the Big Three; and Jeep was the only AMC brand continued by Chrysler after the acquisition. But Chrysler subsequently merged with Daimler-Benz in 1998 and folded into DaimlerChrysler. DaimlerChrysler eventually sold most of their interest in Chrysler to a private equity company in 2007. Chrysler and the Jeep division operated under Chrysler Group LLC, until December 15, 2014, when Chrysler folded into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, with the stateside division operating under 'FCA US LLC'.
Jeeps have been built under licence by various manufacturers around the world, including Mahindra in India, EBRO in Spain, and several in South America. Mitsubishi built more than 30 models in Japan between 1953 and 1998; Most were based on the CJ-3B model of the original Willys-Kaiser design.
Toledo, Ohio has been the headquarters of the Jeep brand since its inception, and the city has always been proud of this heritage. Although no longer produced in the same Toledo Complex as the World War II originals, two streets in the vicinity of the old plant are named Willys Parkway and Jeep Parkway. The Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee are built in the city currently, in separate facilities, not far from the site of the original Willys-Overland plant.
American Motors set up the first automobile-manufacturing joint venture in the People's Republic of China on January 15, 1984. The result was Beijing Jeep Corporation, Ltd., in partnership with Beijing Automobile Industry Corporation, to produce the Jeep Cherokee (XJ) in Beijing. Manufacture continued after Chrysler's buyout of AMC. This joint venture is now part of DaimlerChrysler and DaimlerChrysler China Invest Corporation. The original 1984 XJ model was updated and called the "Jeep 2500" toward the end of its production that ended after 2005.
While Jeeps have been built in India under licence by Mahindra & Mahindra since the 1960s, Jeep has entered the Indian market directly in 2016, starting with release of the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee in the country.
This section may be too long and excessively detailed. (December 2017)
The CJ (for "Civilian Jeep") series were literally the first "Jeep" branded vehicles produced for the civilian public, beginning in 1945 with the CJ-2A, followed by the CJ-3A in 1949 and the CJ-3B in 1953. These early Jeeps are commonly referred to as "flatfenders" because their front fenders were flat and rectangular across, like on their military forebears, the Willys MB and identical Ford GPW models. The CJ-4 exists only as a 1951 prototype, and is the "missing link" between the flat-fendered CJ-2A and CJ-3B and the round-fendered CJ-5 first introduced in 1955.
With over 300,000 wagons and its variants built in the U.S., it was one of Willys' most successful post-World War II models. Its production coincided with consumers moving to the suburbs.
The 1948 introduced Jeepster was directly based on the rear-wheel-drive Jeep Station Wagon chassis, and shared many of the same parts.
From 1955 onwards Willys offered two-wheel drive versions of their CJ Jeeps for commercial use, called DJ models (for 'Dispatcher Jeep'), in both open and closed body-styles. A well-known version was the right-hand drive model with sliding side-doors, used by the US Postal service.
In 1961 the range was expanded with the 'Fleetvan' delivery-van, based on DJ Jeeps.
SUV models (1962-1991)
Pickup models (1962-1988)
This section may be too long and excessively detailed. (April 2018)
The Jeep brand currently produces five models, but 8 vehicles are under the brand name or use the Jeep logo:
Jeeps have been built and/or assembled around the world by various companies.
Jeep is also a brand of apparel of outdoor lifestyle sold under license. It is reported that there are between 600 and 1,500 such outlets in China, vastly outnumbering the number of Jeep auto dealers in the country.
In August 2014 Jeep signed a sponsorship deal with Greek football club AEK Athens F.C..
... served as the auditor for Fiat S.p.A. and its consolidated subsidiaries, which include Chrysler Group
Chrysler Group LLC operates as a subsidiary of Fiat North America LLC
The first Land-Rover owed a lot to the Jeep. Designer Gordon Bashford, who laid out the basic concept, makes no secret of that. It was also his job to go off to an ex-WD surplus vehicle dump in the Cotswolds, buy a couple of roadworthy Jeeps...
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