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 original Jeep was the prototype Bantam BRC. Willys MB Jeeps went into production in 1941 specifically for the military. Arguably that makes 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. It remained so in the postwar period. The term became common worldwide in the wake of the war. Doug Stewart notes:
- 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 first civilian models were produced in 1945. It 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 2007 Jeep began manufacturing crossover SUVs with its Compass and Patriot models. This led to the 2013 Jeep Cherokee midsize crossover.
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Chrysler Group LLC operates as a subsidiary of Fiat North America LLC
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- Stewart, Doug (1992). "Hail to the jeep! Could we have won without it?". Smithsonian. 23 (8): 60-69.
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The first Land-Rover owed a lot to the Jeep. Designer Gordon Bashford, who laid out the basic concept, makes no secret of that. It was also his job to go off to an ex-WD surplus vehicle dump in the Cotswolds, buy a couple of roadworthy Jeeps...