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Jeep vehicles are nowadays considered to be kings of off-road driving. It’s no accident, as far as their specifications serve a paragon of performance, durability and safety for thousands of enthusiasts who practice extreme steering. In earlier days Jeeps were an integral military tool which satisfied all inconceivable requirements. Since that time, they have engrained into the life of ordinary people. Yet, it’s only the beginning!
Jeep is an automotive brand, totally owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC. Today the brand name unites not only all vehicles, produced by the FCA subsidiary, but also designates a whole class of cars, intended for driving on rough terrain. Interestingly enough, there isn’t a single version concerning the origins of the brand name.
The first version (the most wide-spread one) states that the word ‘jeep’ originates from the military designation ‘GP = for governments purposes’ that slurred into a neologism. The other theory insists that the name originates from a cartoon character Eugene the Jeep (from a Popeye comic), who became a favorite among the US soldiers. This character was a jungle pet with some extraordinary skills (i.e. moving between dimensions and solving unthinkable problems) – a similar description was attributed to the vehicles, produced by Willys-Overland.
The third most supported theory assumes that ‘jeep’ was a military slang name, denoting the cars that had not been tested. Whichever way you slice it, this automobile brand name originates from the pre-war period and is attributed to the US military forces to a greater or lesser degree.
The history of Jeep vehicles goes back to 1940 when the US Army started seeking for an automaker to manufacture a reconnaissance monster. Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland were the two producers to have agreed to build prototypes of what we call today as jeeps. Due to lack of facilities and workforce, Bantam supplied all BRC prototype elaborations to Willys and Ford. The latter produced their own modified version of the car – Pygmy and Quad. Later on, Willys-Overland introduced model MB with Go Devil engine; the car has become a standard for all Jeep units.
During WWII jeeps were widely used as field ambulances, tractors, firefighting machines, etc. Their versatility was recognized far outside the USA; hence, the company delivered about 30% of all produced vehicles to the UK army and the Soviet Red Army.
In the post-war period the company introduced a few other military-oriented solutions: CJ-V35/U (a reconnaissance underwater vehicle), M715 (an army truck), CJ-2A/CJ-3B/CJ-5A (civilian cars with flat front fenders).
Therewith, the brand gained a huge popularity across the world and became a tasty morsel for different automakers. As a result, Jeep went into mergers several times: 1963 – Kaiser-Jeep alliance, 1970 – a division of American Motors Corporation, 1987 – AMC was acquired by Chrysler Corporation (the emergence of Jeep Wrangler off-road model), 1998 – Jeep became a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler after their merger, 2014 – the brand changed its parent company after the merger of DaimlerChrysler with Fiat.
Outstanding specifications of all Jeep vehicles have triggered the appearance of a large number of imitations throughout the world. Thus, cars under the brand’s license are manufactured by Indian Mahindra & Mahindra, Spanish EBRO, Japanese Mitsubishi, and Chinese Beijing Automobile Industry Corporation. The latter entered into a joint venture with Jeep to produce Cherokee XJ vehicles inside China.
Still, the most striking and globally-known imitation of jeeps was invented in the Philippines. Local handymen transformed the machines into one-of-a-kind taxis/buses, called Jeepneys. Of course, the cars underwent certain modifications, including lengthening/widening of body and redesigning (abundant offbeat decoration). Over the years, these mass-passenger vehicles have become true symbols of the Philippines.
Jeep is currently producing six various SUVs/trucks/pickups models:
- Cherokee KL – mid-size SUV;
- Grand Cherokee – mid-size SUV;
- Patriot – compact SUV;
- Compass – compact SUV;
- Wrangler, including J8 (mid-size military SUV), JK (compact SUV), JK Unlimited (long wheelbase SUV), TJL (compact pickup truck), Brute Double Cab (compact pickup truck);
- Renegade BU – subcompact SUV.
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