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Media post: The fascinating story behind Jeep

Jeep can be considered as a patriotic automaker that has developed into an iconic American brand today. Recognized as a vehicle that assisted in winning World War 11, Jeep has an interesting history that reveals that tenacity is the key to success.  Jeep Seattle has an interesting history of the Jeep. Although Jeep is a recognized iconic automotive brand, in reality, its development hung on a group of unsuccessful corporate owners. Jeep suffered several mishaps during its tenure because it passed from hand- to- hand of several automakers, resulting in a trail of extinct companies along the way. So much so, that even current owner, Fiat Chrysler appears to be displaying signs of instability.

Jeep came into being because the Army needed a vehicle that would fit into an all-purpose transportation situation.  A popular theory on the name “Jeep” is that it originated from the acronym for GP, “general purpose.”  Others say it originated with Popeye comic strip character, Eugene the Jeep. Interestingly, you can read here for more information on the originality of the acronym for GP.

How it all began

The American Bantam, a car company in Butler, Pennsylvania was the original designer of the Jeep. During the latter part of the 1930s, the Army needed a mode of transportation that could replace the horse and motorcycle. In 1940 when the government needed a small four-wheel drive vehicle, it contracted Willys Overland because of the concern that American Bantam couldn’t build the number of vehicles it needed.  Later, the Ford Company was included. Ford then, started out by branding “F”on many parts to distinguish its Jeeps from the ones Willys made.

After the war, however, Willys transformed its military Jeep, the MB into the CJ-2A. Willys continued to produce the CA (Civilian Jeep) into numerous unique generations for the next four decades. Eventually, the Wrangler replaced the CJ, and is still on the market today.

Undeterred, Willys began creating a complete collection of Jeep vehicles, which shaped the beginning of Jeep’s changeover into a unique brand. Willys rolled out several noticeable designs in the latter part of the 1940s; in 1946, the Jeep station wagon, in 1947, a Jeep pickup truck and the Jeepster; a mini convertible that looked more like a regular car.  Decades later, the Jeep would be designed to look more like cars, thus forming the first crossover of the Jeep. Click the following link for additional information:×4-get-its-name/

In 1953, Kaiser bought Willys and the Jeep once more changed hands. At that time, Kaiser was responsible for the Liberty Ship, another World War 11 vehicle. Right after the war, Kaiser went into the business of car production. In 1963, it stopped using the Willys name completely and became Kaiser-Jeep.  It was in 1963 also that the Wagoneer came out; a more sophisticated substitute to the CJ.  The Wagoneer designed with a fully enclosed station wagon-like body is the initial forerunner of current SUVs.

The How and Why of AMC and Chrysler 

In 1969, AMC, a Wisconsin-based automaker, bought Kaiser-Jeep.  Under AMC’s ownership, the Jeep brand enjoyed a significant growth, but the other lineup in this automaker company declined significantly too. This resulted in an alliance between AMC and Renault, but this proved futile because partnership couldn’t save AMC.  In 1987, Chrysler, who had an interest in Jeep, bought the company.

In the 1980s, two important Jeep models were introduced on the market.  The XJ-generation Cherokee was the first one and it came out in 1984.  As Jeep’s first truly modern SUV, the XJ literally pushed the brand further creating more impact on the market.  Although the company continued to produce the XJ with some modifications up to 2001, it was replaced eventually by the Liberty in 2001.

While Chrysler’s was planning its takeover, Jeep on the other hand, was getting ready with a replacement for the CJ. This replacement was the YJ, the first-generation Wrangler. The YJ looked stood out with its look and off-road ability similar to the CJ along but with up-to-date features, but the Jeep traditionalists didn’t buy into it. They didn’t like the square lights of the YJ.  The result was replacement of round lights, which were designed in succeeding generations. Eventually, the Wrangler became one of the distinct features in the Jeep group. There is plan to roll out a version of a fourth–generation type  soon.

Prosperous SUV introduction

Chrysler no doubt made a smart choice when it bought Jeep. An explosive interest in the 1990s for SUVs, gave Jeep the push to maximize on the enthusiasm shown by the populace. In 1992, the first-generation Grand Cherokee was introduced, which gave Jeep the correct first-class model SUV vehicle. Things took on a different turn in the latter part of the 1990s. In 1998, Chrysler decided to merge with Daimler AG. This merge resulted in new focus directed on producing trucks and SUVs that were more costly in terms of fuel efficiency and quality. The Compass and Patriot were Jeep’s initial car-based crossovers.  These were criticized universally and the huge Commander received white elephant status due to 2008 recession that resulted in a rise in gas prices. Undaunted, by this event, Jeep launched the Grand Cherokee SRT, a model that favored on-road performance while ignoring off-road capability. Read Jeep development.

Daimler cut off Chrysler eventually and as the recession took its toll, Chrysler became a bankrupt company.  However, Fiat bought the company before it collapsed totally. The current new name is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).  The new owners made several divisive decisions such as the return of the Cherokee as a crossover and the introduction of mini Renegade. The 2017 New York Auto Show saw the introduction of a vehicle that American Bantam, the original designers could never have envisioned the 707- horsepower Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

Jeep enjoys robust sales on the market. While the automaker claims it has plans for an extensive lineup of models for the future, there could very well be a repeat in history. It is evident that Jeep is doing extremely well at the expense of several other Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) car-focus brands. The problem that this situation creates begs this question: How viable will this Italian –American company be in the long term? Jeep appears to have withstood the ever-changing flows of business prosperity. The Jeep seemed poised for whatever the future holds, and will remain on the market despite any future challenges within the auto world.

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