Jeep is an American automobile brand that is run through FCA US LLC, which was once the Chrysler Group. They’ve been with the Chrysler Group since 1987 when they were acquired. Prior to that, they were with American Motors Corporation (AMC). Since the Jeep brand was started, the headquarters have been located in Toledo, Ohio.
Jeep produces sport utility vehicles that are known for their off-road capability. In the past, they’ve also made some trucks. At times, they touch into the luxury segment with products like the Grand Cherokee.
The brand has been in existence now for more than 75 years. It’s been a symbol of adventure, freedom, and authenticity. Jeep enthusiasts are like a family with one another; a brotherhood. Events are held throughout the year for drivers to get together and talk about their Jeep vehicles.
A Brief Jeep History
When Was The First Jeep Made?
Once the United States became involved in World War II, 135 companies were contacted by the Army to create a four-wheel-drive vehicle for reconnaissance. There were only two companies that responded to the request: Willys-Overland and the American Bantam Car Company.
The deadline was set at just 49 days for the companies to create a working prototype for review. Willys requested some additional time, but the Army refused. The American Bantam Car Company was broke and left with just their skeleton staff. They went ahead and asked Karl Probst for his services. At the time, he was a designer located in Detroit. At first, he declined the offer but later went to work, without salary to help complete the job.
They laid out the plans for what is known as the BRC. With the bid submitted and the prototype assembled, they presented it to the Army for review. They had everything except the necessary engine torque.
The Army knew that the Bantam operation wasn’t large enough to supply their needs. To expedite matters, the design was provided to Ford and Willys. Ford modified the version and created the Pygmy while Wills invented the Quad.
The Army had 1,500 of each vehicle built for field testing, but Willys won the contract. This became the standard for Jeep design and was produced in the Toledo, Ohio plant.
The War Department required more vehicles than what Willys could achieve. That’s when Willy allowed Ford access to the specifications and plans so they could supply as well.
The final version was the Model MB and Ford’s Model GPW. The vehicles were almost identical except for some minor differences. Willys-Overland, together with Ford, created around 640,000 Jeeps for the war. They were used in every service of the military and for every purpose.
The Jeep Company After The War
Once the war was over, many companies attempted to imitate the Jeep. Delahaye in France tried as well as Hotchkiss et Cie. Even the Land Rover was inspired by this company.
Jeep wanted to experiment with some new designs. They even created something that drove underwater. The MB on the other hand came out of the war ready for a new mission. The company saw a need in the farming industry and moved forward with their plans.
Of the estimated 5.5 million farmers in the country, over 4 million of them didn’t have a tractor or a truck. That’s when they marketed the CJ-2A as American’s Work-Horse. They claimed it did the job of two draft horses and operated at four mph for a maximum of ten hours per day without overheating.
The company then debuted its all-steel station wagon, the 463 Jeep Station Wagon. It had a three-toned paint design that made it look like wood. The design left it weather-resistant and it didn’t suffer from squeaks or peeling. In fact, tailgate parties began with this vehicle. What made this wagon truly unique was that it could hold 4×8 sheets of plywood vertically as well as horizontally. They also were able to be cleaned like the kitchen sink.
The company then created the Jeep Trucks which were available in two or four-wheel drive. These were also marketed to the farmer. To appeal to the general public, the Jeepster was also produced. It was a phaeton style with an open body. Instead of windows, it featured side curtains. The target market was women or college graduates. The majority of people that bought it used it for sunny days as a second vehicle.
Expanding the Line in the 1950s
For 15 years, a Jeep vehicle was used to produce all Zamboni ice machines. That’s because they took 10 minutes to do the job of another vehicle which took 90 minutes.
Then, in 1954, the CJ-5 arrived. It offered softer lines and a rounded body. The vehicle was modeled after the Korean War’s M-38A1. In 1965, the company released a new V6 engine which produced 155 horsepower. This doubled the power of most four-cylinder engines.
CJ owners wanted more room for gear and passengers, so Willys Motors went to work and created the CJ-6. It was a CJ-5, but with a 20-inch longer wheelbase. They also designed a DJ-3A which was intended for resorts. There were three color schemes: Coral Mist with Glacier White, Tropical Rose and Coral Mist, or Cerulean Blue with Glacier White. Not only did the striped interior match, but there was also a striped top that featured fringe.
New Innovations in the 1960s
Willys Motors released the Fleetvan which was used for postal delivery, ice-cream trucks and other multi-stop applications. Not only could people walk through it which made their job easier, but it also was built with an 81-inch wheelbase and powerful engine.
Then, in 1962, they introduced the Wagoneer. This is considered to be the first luxury SUV in the world. It also had the first automatic transmission with a four-wheel-drive system. Other firsts this vehicle broke was: the first overhead-cam six-cylinder engine, first automatic full-time 4×4, and the first 4×4 to have an independent front suspension.
That same year, they released the Jeep Gladiator trucks. This full-size pickup had the same powertrain, front-end styling, and platform as the Wagoneer. Just the next year, in 1965, the company refined the Wagoneer and released the Super Wagoneer. It was often referred to as “Super Custom” and designed for a luxury-minded prestigious buyer.
Sticking true to its roots, the M-715 series was designed for the Vietnam era. It replaced the Dodge M37 ¾-ton which was in service since 1951. This 1 ¼-ton military Jeep was adapted from the Gladiator truck and was built primarily from civilian components.
In the later 1960s, there was a growing demand for 4×4 vehicles for leisure activities. That’s why the company jumped on creating the Jeepster Commando. This sporty vehicle was built to compete with the Land Cruiser and Bronco.
GMC Acquisition and Then Chrysler
Through the 1970s, the Jeep Brand continued with innovative designs and technology. They introduced the first full-time 4×4 system and their sporty Cherokee swept the awards. The six models being offered at the time helped to elevate the brand’s sales to new highs.
American Motors Corporation (AMC) acquired the Jeep Corporation early in 1970. This was the perfect way for AMC to complement their passenger car production. They also spun off the designs with their own subsidiary, AM General. This is where the M998 Humvee came from.
At one time, Renault was investing in the Jeep Corporation in 1970, but then they began having financial troubles as well. CJ Jeeps were replaced by the Wrangler line starting in 1986. This created the beginning of a new era for the company.
During this time, Chrysler also became interested in the brand. Then, in 1987, they bought out AMC and replaced the Jeep CJ-7 with the Wrangler YJ. This small automaker finally made it to the Big Three. In fact, Jeep was the only AMC brand that Chrysler continued once it was acquired. In 1998, Chrysler merged with Daimler-Benz and they became DaimlerChrysler. After this, they sold most of the equity to a private company and later became part of the Chrysler Group LLC. This is how they operated through 2014 when they folded into the Fiat Chrysler Automobile hat.
The Jeep Company In The Modern Age
Even today, the Jeep brand is going strong. They continue to see old favorites that have been updated for today’s world, but they also create new products for the ever-changing market. Their brand resonates with most consumers and global sales continue to increase. In fact, 2016 was their highest point in all of its 75-year history. Newer vehicles such as the Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, and improved Jeep Grand Cherokee, continue to take the market by surprise.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
Back in 2008, the Vice Chairman of Chrysler, Tom LaSorda showcased an electric four-door Wrangler model. This model would have had a 40-mile range before the gas engine kicked in to supply power. In 2009, Fiat disbanded the electric car division of Chrysler and squashed all future plans.
There are talks of the Wrangler being offered once again as a plug-in hybrid model in the year 2020. This is separate from the 48-volt start-stop system that the company is currently using in the Wrangler. This would be the first production model that featured a plug.
Jeep Safety and Crash Ratings
Many people wonder – is Jeep safe? According to the IIHS, the Jeep Grand Cherokee might not be a safe choice. In 2017 tests, it received poor ratings in relation to preventing injuries in the right front corner. This only occurred when it was traveling at speeds over 40 mph, but the IIHS still issued warnings about it.
In fact, the senior vice president of vehicle research for the company advised people who care for their families to choose a different vehicle.
The 2017 Jeep Wrangler fared in a similar fashion, which was to be expected. Most people that purchase Wranglers don’t do it for the crashworthiness. With that said, the company does continue to improve on safety features in an effort to make it safer for those inside.
Jeep Safety Equipment
The newest Jeep brand vehicles come with numerous safety features to keep passengers safe. As far as passive safety goes, their smart design offers some preventative measures like advanced front and side airbags for protection. They also have high-strength steel beams in the construction to improve the vehicle’s stiffness and side-impact performance.
With Rear Cross Path Detection system, radars are used to warn the driver of other vehicles nearby. This helps with the blind spot or when you are backing up. They also offer Hill Start Assist which is useful on steep urban streets or while off-roading. Instead of rolling backward when starting out on an incline, it helps to move you forward.
If parking is a worry, there is a ParkSense Rear Park Assist System that uses sonar sensors located inside the rear bumper. It detects obstacles situated behind the vehicle and alerts you of any potential hazards while backing into that spot. There’s also a ParkView Rear Backup Camera which is useful at boat launches, parking spots, or campsites.
Jeep vehicles also offer SOS Call and Assist Buttons. When they are pressed, the button connects to the PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) and dispatches first responders to your location. They are also able to send you roadside assistance when needed.
With the Tire Pressure Monitoring System and full-size spare tire, there’s no more need to check your air pressures. If a tire is leaking, the system alerts passengers. In addition, if a gust of wind hits the SUV or a truck passes by, most vehicles will sway slightly. With the Jeep, the Trailer Sway Control system applies its brake power to alternating wheels and makes adjustments to the engine throttle which eliminates the sway. This keeps the vehicle stable and safer.
Jeep Safety Recalls
There have been numerous Jeep safety recalls throughout the brand’s lifetime. In 2016, Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.1 million vehicles which included the 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees. When drivers shifted into park with the engine running and assumed they were safe, the shift levers would spring back into the same position as before they shifted. Drivers were unable to tell whether or not the system was in park and 41 injuries occurred as a result.
In 2018, one of the largest automobile recalls ever occurred and it included Jeep. Fiat Chrysler recalled 4.8 million vehicles. This included the 2014-2018 Jeep Cherokee, 2014-2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the 2018 Jeep Wrangler. There was a software defect that left drivers unable to cancel out their cruise control under certain conditions.
Jeep Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
According to Consumer Reports, the Jeep ranked 21 out of 30 automobile brands tested in 2017 for customer satisfaction. That was up four spots since the previous year. This puts the brand at one of the lowest spots on the market.
While returning Jeep owners can’t understand the poor ratings, a lot of it has to do with first-time owners that don’t comprehend what they are getting into. For example, first-time Wrangler owners are unaware that the ride isn’t meant to be soft and smooth. This causes dissatisfaction and lowers the ratings.
Another thing that brought the brand lower was the lackluster engine choices included in the Patriot and Compass models. They weren’t on-target with what the brand stood for and wasn’t worthy of being in their vehicles.
Another surprise is that the Jeep brand came in second to last place in the J.D. Vehicle Dependability Study of 2017. This was just one spot above the Fiat brand. Some of the reasons for the rating were related to powertrain dependability and low feature quality.
The Jeep brand is known for winning numerous awards every year. Here are a few of the more notable achievements:
– Grand Cherokee won AutoPacific Ideal Vehicle Award in the “Most Ideal Mid-Size SUV” category.
– Renegade named to the KBB Coolest Cars of 2016 list.
– Cherokee Limited and Trailhawk were both given the Compact Sport Utility Vehicle of Texas award by the Texas Auto Writers Association.
– Cherokee Trailhawk Named FOUR WHEELER 2017 SUV of the Year.
– Grand Cherokee selected as “Best SUV to Buy” from Car Connection.
– Grand Cherokee named as “Best Buy” for the seventh consecutive year by Consumers Digest.
– Compass won Automotive Science Group (ASG) – “Best Economic Performance Award” for crossovers.
– Grand Cherokee was chosen as Four Wheeler – “SUV of the Year.”
– Wrangler won Four Wheeler – “4×4 of the Decade.”
– Wrangler earns an ALG Residual Value Award.
– The brand was crowned 4×4 Manufacturer of the Year by 4×4 Magazine.
– Wrangler won the Off-Road Award by 4×4 Magazine.
– Renegade was named Best Small SUV by 4×4 Magazine.
– Wrangler was listed as the #4 pick for Best Resale Value Awards by KBB.
The brand has been through numerous owners since its beginnings. Willys-Overland filed for the first trademark to have the “Jeep” name in 1943. Their first advertisements emphasized how Wills contributed to the Jeep that won the war. Their application was met with continuous opposition, mainly from Bantam. The FTC ruled in favor of Bantam and scolded Willys for their advertising. They even received a cease and desist order from any further claims that they created or designed the Jeep vehicle. Despite that ruling, Willys produced the first Civilian Jeep in 1945 and copyrighted the name in 1946. Since they were the only company that continued to build the vehicles, they were awarded the trademark in 1950. The FCA US LLC is the most recent owner of the Jeep brand and they hold the trademark for the name plus the seven-slot front grille design.
Humvee (HMMWV) history ties into Jeep. The company’s Defense and Government Products Division got turned into AM General in 1971, which was owned by AMC. During 1979, AM General took steps toward designing the Humvee as well as manufacturing the two-wheel drive DJ, which was first created by Jeep in 1953. Then, a long battle in court went on over the use of the seven-slot grille design that both companies used.
Jeep is known for its off-road capability. It’s one of the few four-wheel-drive vehicles that features solid axles. They are known to be durable and strong. These solid axles are cheaper and easier to lift with aftermarket suspension systems as well. With these kits, the distance between the chassis and axle is increased.
This also allows larger tires to be fitted which increases the ground clearance. This gives the Jeep brand more opportunity to traverse difficult and large obstacles. In addition, the Jeep suspension flexes to keep all four of the wheels on the ground which maintains better traction. The smaller Jeeps have short wheelbases, ample approach, narrow frames, and breakover which allows them to fit where the larger four-wheel drive vehicles can’t go.
Snapshot of the Company
Jeep is a division of FCA US LLC. Their headquarters have been in Toledo, Ohio since Willy-Overland started producing the first CJ in 1945. Its replacement, the Wrangler, has been in production since 1986.
Michael Manley is the Head of Ram Brand since 2015. He is also the Head of Jeep Brand and member of the Group Executive Council (GEC) since 2011. He became the President and CEO of Jeep in 2009. Prior to that, he was the COO for Asia and also the lead Chrysler Group executive in charge of international activities for Chrysler.
During 2016, Jeep sold 1.4 million SUVs across the world. This was a large increase from the 500,000 sold in 2008. Two-thirds of their sales occur in North America and they are Fiat-Chrysler’s best-selling brand.
During 2017, Jeep Grand Cherokee increased sales by another 13%.
It’s estimated that if Jeep spun off into its own company, it’s worth would be between $22 and $33.5 billion, which is more than all of FCA.
Fiat is the Italian holding company that plays a significant role in the automobile field. Since 2014, Jeep has been a part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobile Group. FCA US also includes some other well-known manufacturers such as Ram, Chrysler, Maserati, and Dodge. They also own Mopar parts and service.
There is little known about the Jeep logo and for a time, it didn’t appear on any vehicles at all. Instead, the company just used the name. Though there was a time that Jeep used the logo on their SUVs, modern models seem to be reverting back to just using the name.
Many people believe that because the brand stands for durability, the American spirit, and toughness, that nothing else is needed by the name. With “Jeep” on a vehicle, it speaks loud and clear.
In marketing campaigns, the company still uses their logo. It looks like the grill of a car with two circles on each end, meant to be the headlights. Then, the name is spelled out above the grill for maximum presence.
Throughout the years, the color to their logo has changed. At first, it was registered with red and gold. Later, they swapped out the gold and used blue instead. This was done when AMC acquired Jeep. Today, you’ll find the color is dark-green which pays honor to the military history this brand has.
Whether it’s true or not, some people say that Jeep stands for “Just Enough Essential Parts.” The message has a lot of merit to it because they just don’t come with all the bells and whistles other vehicles do. That’s what makes them tough and durable.
Jeep did something in 2016 that caught the marketing world by storm. To celebrate their 75th anniversary, they thought about hiring an author to write their story. After some consideration, they changed their mind and asked the customers to do it for them. “My Jeep Story” was the celebration of all the years Jeep invested into their drivers.
People were encouraged to share their Jeep memories via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #myjeepstory. Then, Jeep took 75 of the tales and put them into a digital compilation. What came from it were stories such as the soldier who thought his Jeep was his best friend. There are also some quotes from President Eisenhower which describe the SUVs role in the military.
Then, during the 2016 Super Bowl, Jeep used some ad spots to say, “We don’t make Jeep, you do.”
Jeep has several other deals going on outside of the automotive world. In fact, they have their own line of outdoor lifestyle apparel. China has over 1,000 Jeep apparel outlets which outweigh the number of car dealers they have.
Since 2012, Jeep has also been the shirt sponsor of the Italian football club, Juventus. Then, in 2014, they signed another sponsorship deal, this time with the Greek football club, AEK Athens F.C.
Aftermarket parts for racing are done through Mopar. They are the parts, service, and customer care organization for Fiat Chrysler. Not only do they build customized vehicles, but they also hold events and races throughout the year.
The Mopar name is a cross between the words “Motor” and “PARts.” They’ve been in business for more than 80 years. They currently service over 150 markets and have more than 7,000 employees. In addition, they have 34,000 technicians that are certified through them plus they’ve have sold more than 500,000 parts and accessories.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Jeep museum because there isn’t one. Sure, there are collections here and there, but no one dedicated museum to the rich history of this brand. It’s been talked about before, but plans never seemed to pan out.
In spite of that, there is the Omix-ADA military Jeep collection nestled in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. It is run by the aftermarket parts supplier and has numerous vehicles on display from all eras of its existence. There are some of the earliest military vehicles as well as some late model examples.
They even have three early military prototypes that were produced by Ford, Willy, and Bantam. On display, they also have the “Seep” which was the amphibious cargo and troop hauler during the war. Most of them were used in Russia in their shallow creeks and lakes. The company only built them for ten months and the majority of them were destroyed at war, so it’s nice to see one preserved.
Aside from all the military versions on display, they also have many civilian models as well. The original CJ farm vehicle and CJ fire truck are housed here. The exhibition also features a Jeepster, Surrey, and early model Wagoneer.
It’s quite the collection for any fan of the Jeep brand, but maybe one day there will be a dedicated museum in Toledo.
All Jeep financing goes through Chrysler Capital which is located in Dallas, Texas. While they offer your typical leasing and purchasing options, there are some other things that set them apart. First, they use Mopar to supply protection plans and warranties.
They offer an Added Care Plus plan that covers more than 800 components to the vehicle. There’s also the upgraded package, Maximum Care. That one covers customers for over 5,000 components. Both plans include:
- $100 deductible
- First-day rental allowance
- Car rental allowance
- $100 towing allowance plus roadside assistance
- $600 key fob repair or replacement coverage
- $1,000 trip interruption protection
Aside from that warranty protection, there is also a separate Road Hazard Tire & Wheel Coverage.
Aside from regular incentives that are offered to customers, Chrysler Capital also exceeds the minimum requirements for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. To ease the burden of service members called to active duty, the following benefits are offered:
- A lowered interested rate to six percent for the entire time of active duty.
- No service fees.
- Protection from repossession unless there’s a written waiver or court order.
- The ability to terminate the lease without any fees.
In addition, Chrysler Capital covered the service member for an extra 90 days once active duty has ended to give them time to readjust.
In the United States, there are more than 2400 dealerships which have the franchise rights to sell Jeep vehicles. When choosing a dealer, you’ll also want to watch for the awards that the company offers its top locations. The first one to watch for is the Customer First Award for Excellence. This distinguished award is for dealers that provide extraordinary care to their customers. This award takes into account their training certifications, facility certifications, performance measure, employee satisfaction and process validation. There’s only a small circle of elite FCA dealers that have received this award.
The other one to watch for is the Pentastar Club Award. This is given to dealerships with top annual retail sales. It’s a thank you for their hard work, performance and dedication in their parts and service department as well as sales.
Another great resource is the J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence listing. Currently, there are only three Jeep branded dealerships that made the list. The two in Massachusetts are Herb Chambers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram FIAT of Danvers and Herb Chambers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram FIAT of Millbury. The third is Terry Henricks Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram located in Archbold, Ohio.
10 Interesting Facts about Jeep
1 – The Willys MB is referred to as an International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
2 – Some people believe that the Jeep was named from a cartoon character. Just a few years before Jeep came to be, there was a guy in Popeye named Eugene the Jeep.
3 – The first time the 4×4 was taken out in public, it drove up the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
4 – Daisy Duke from Dukes of Hazzard drove a CJ model from 1979 through 1985. It was so popular that fans often bought model kits or die-cast versions to build it for themselves.
5 – When Pope Francis visited the United States in 2015, he had the chance to ride around in a modified Wrangler. He sat up high during the motorcades through New York and Washington. His vehicle is surrounded by bulletproof glass and some have been designed for him to stand, while others allow him to sit. He also chose a Jeep Wrangler supplied by Fiat when he visited Ecuador in 2015.
6 – Both the Wrangler and Cherokee took the top two spots of the 2017 Cars.com American Made Index. This determined that the two vehicles were made from the most American parts than any other brand.
7 – When two Jeep vehicles pass on the road, it’s customary to see them wave hello. This action is traced back to the days of the CJ.
8 – No less than 8 companies have owned the Jeep name throughout the brand’s history. Going from most recent backwards: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Chrysler LLC, Daimler Chrysler, Chrysler Corporation, Renault (as majority owner of AMC, American Motors Corp., Kaiser Jeep, and Willys-Overland.
9 – You may have been pronouncing the name of the Willys Jeep wrong! It’s not pronounced “Willies” but “Willis” like the company founder preferred, and he should know how to pronounce his own name. Here’s another little fact about the founder too: he never actually saw a Jeep, with the first prototypes being produced five years after his death in 1940.
10 – It’s possible to build a vintage Jeep from almost entirely from reproduction parts. Virtually every part to construct a Jeep from scratch is available from vendors that manufacture replacement parts. Everything from body panels and frame rails to nuts and bolts and decals can be purchased through a catalog. The only caveat being that depending upon the year you choose, you might have to source some of the heavier cast parts, though components to conduct a complete rebuild remain available.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Jeep Made? Since its inception, the headquarters for Jeep has also been in Toledo, Ohio. While they are still assembled in the same city, they do have a new plant. The city does pay tribute to the old plant and it’s become a big part of their heritage.
How Did Jeep Get Its Name? During the wars,as soldiers used the vehicles they would refer to it as Jeep which was a form of slang. Others contest this theory as they believe the Jeep was named after a character used in the popular Popeye comic strips known as Eugene the Jeep. This fictional character was small and had the ability to go anywhere therefore soldiers would nickname the vehicle Jeep.
Which Jeep Wrangler is the Best? There are numerous options when it comes to the Jeep Wrangler. The Sport is the lowest priced two-door model. As far as four-door models go, the Sahara has the most creature comforts, but many people prefer the highest end model, the Rubicon. That’s because it’s equipped with the most amount of off-road gear plus larger tires.
Are Jeep Wranglers Safe? You wouldn’t want to buy a Wrangler because of its impeccable safety ratings. It hasn’t fared well on the IIHS safety ratings for many years. With that in mind, most people that purchase a Wrangler aren’t doing so to stay safe.
Are Jeeps Good Cars? It really depends on how you are using your Jeep. If you want an off-road vehicle that can handle most terrain, then a Jeep is a great choice. If you want an off-road vehicle that you only drive down the road and you expect to hear no road noise or feel any bumps, the Jeep isn’t for you. Modern Jeeps are still rugged looking and now offer some upgraded amenities, but their overall premise remains the same; build a quality 4×4 vehicle.
Are Jeeps Good in the Snow? After many extensive road and off-road tests, most people conclude that the Jeep brand handles well on mud, pavement, snow, water, and most anything else you can throw at it. That’s mainly due to its four-wheel drive capability.