History of the Jeep

Jeep is a brand of American automobiles and subsidiary of the Italian-American corporation Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Jeep has been a part of Chrysler since 1987 when Chrysler acquired the Jeep brand from previous owner American Motors Corp. Jeep's current product range consists solely of sport utility vehicles and off-road vehicles, but has also included pickup trucks and roadsters in the past. Jeep returned to the pickup truck market in early 2019. Some of Jeep's vehicles reach into the luxury SUV segment, a market the Jeep Wagoneer is considered to have created. Having sold 1.4 million SUVs globally in 2016, Jeep was Fiat-Chrysler's best selling brand in the U.S. during the first half of 2017. Over 2,400 dealerships hold franchise rights to sell Jeep vehicles and if Jeep were a separate company it would be worth approximately $22 and $33.5 billion (2019 estimate).

Prior to 1940 the term "jeep" had been used as U.S. Army slang for new recruits or vehicles. The "jeep" that went into production in 1941 specifically tied the name to a light military 4x4. Many believe jeeps were the first 4-wheel drive mass-production vehicles now known as SUVs. The Jeep became the primary light 4-wheel drive vehicle of the U.S. Army and the Allies during WWII, as well as the postwar period. The term became common worldwide in the wake of the war.

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 central to the brand�s identity. At least two Jeep models (the CJ-5 and the SJ Wagoneer) enjoyed extraordinary 3-decade production runs of a single body generation.

Since the war Jeeps have 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. In lowercase, the term "jeep" continues to be used as a generic term for vehicles suitable for use on rough terrain.