Jeep Car Manufacturers

July 27, 2014

Jeep Car Manufacturers

Jeep is a brand of American automobiles that is a division of FCA US LLC (formerly Chrysler Group, LLC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The former Chrysler Corporation acquired the Jeep brand, along with the remaining assets of its owner American Motors, in 1987. Jeep's current product range consists solely of sport utility vehicles and off-road vehicles, but has also included pickup trucks in the past.

The most difficult thing to understand about the Jeep is where it got its name. Though some have claimed it comes from slurring the "GP" designation gained early in its life, others say soldiers during World War II nicknamed it after the character "Eugene the Jeep" in the popular Popeye comic strip as he could "go anywhere." Really, what the name means now that matters--and for many, Jeep defines off-road capability.

Though the first prototype of this new fighting vehicle was built by the American Bantam Car Company, the Army felt its was underpowered and the company undersized for the volumes the Amry hoped to procure. However, Ford and Willy-Overland modified their competing designs after witnessing the capabilities of the smaller company's entry. Willys ultimately won the contract, but its single assembly site in Toledo, Ohio constricted supply. Thus, both it and Ford were contracted to build the more than 600,000 units of a standardized design used during the war.

In 1946, Willys started producing civilian models under the CJ ("Civilian Jeep") designation, but the struggling company was sold to Kaiser in 1953 and became Kaiser-Jeep 10 years later. American Motors Corporation bought Jeep from Kaiser in 1970 and became a part of Renault when the French company bought AMC in 1979. Eight years later Chrysler, its current owner, received Jeep when it bought AMC. During that time the one thing that didn't change was the location of Jeep's primary assembly facility in Toledo.

From 1963 to 1991, Jeep produced the Wagoneer, a large four-door SUV that remained relatively unchanged throughout its 28-year existence. Arguably the world's first luxury 4x4, it replaced Jeep's 1946-1965 station wagon before eventually being replaced by a smaller, unit-bodied version. In 1993, Chrysler took a design that had been begun by AMC and replaced both the full-size Grand Wagoneer and smaller Cherokee with one model, the Grand Cherokee. The current version has been in production since 2005, and the lineup even includes a Hemi V-8-powered SRT version.

The CJ models most people associate with the Jeep name moved from the CJ-2A to CJ-7 before being replaced by the YJ Wrangler in 1987. It was replaced by the TJ Wrangler in 1997 and the JK version in 2007. It includes a popular four-door model that expands its reach to those who carry people more often than camping equipment. The Jeep lineup has continued to expand in response to the market, with the Liberty taking the place of the Cherokee, and the Compass and Patriot (based on a front-drive platform Chrysler shares with Mitsubishi) aimed at an entry-level buyer more concerned with bad-weather performance than off-road prowess. The seven-passenger Commander, a bluff and blocky vehicle reminiscent of the Grand Wagoneer, rounds out the current lineup.