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 and roadsters in the past; Jeep will return to the pickup truck market in early 2019. 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 4×4, 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.
In lowercase, the term “jeep” continues to be used as a generic term for vehicles inspired by the Jeep that are suitable for use on rough terrain.