The Jeep is one of the most recognizable vehicles in the entire world. Known for their off-road excursions and reliability, many in the rural lands of the world use these metal machines for all sorts of activities. Jeep has been around for nearly 80 years. What do you know about them? Who owns Jeep? Well, the history of Jeep may just shock you. Why don’t we sit down and have a little history lesson?
The Beginnings of Jeep
Unlike other car manufacturers, Jeep had its beginnings involving war and chaos. You see, when the United States realized its inevitable involvement in World War II, the United States Army needed a reconnaissance car to help travel the European countryside. They contacted 135 companies to create such a vehicle, but only two companies actually responded. The two included the American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland. The Army made the demand to obtain the prototype made in just 49 measly days.
American Bantam had a small staff so their top engineer hired a freelancer named Karl Probst. In July 1940, Probst agreed to work with the Army without salary. Shockingly, the design for the first-ever Jeep was made in just two days. It was known as the Bantam Reconnaissance Car or the BRC. The BRC could be assembled from car parts that are on the shelf, making it easy to put together.
The Next Idea
While the BRC worked, Bantam was just too small to create so many vehicles. So, the design was given over to Willys and Ford who were told to build the designs. The prototypes were known as the Willys “Quad” and the Ford “Pygmy” and both were quite similar in design.
Each of these was mass-produced and field-tested to the extreme. It would be the Willys design that was made into the main jeep design with the well-known attributes like the grille being added into the last version by the Army.
Willys was then given a non-exclusive license so that other companies could create the Willys vehicle.
The final version of the Jeep was built by Ford and Willys-Overland called the Model GPW and the Model MB respectively. As the war continued, the price of the Jeep went up to at least $648.74 per vehicle at Willys. Ford had theirs at another $130 more.
Nearly 650,000 Jeeps were made for the war and they counted for exactly 18% of wheeled military vehicles within the U.S. They became an important part of the military and used in every branch. Besides reconnaissance, the Jeep could also go on the railways, act as medical vehicles or tractors, and for many other uses. About a third of the Jeeps made went to Britain and the Soviet Union for use.
The war would end in September 1945, but the Jeep would continue on. Many around the world were amazed by its design and usage that other countries began to develop their very own. Some of these countries include Japan, France, and the Philippines.
The engineers that create Jeeps would go one to attempt to make more different variations, including failed underwater or amphibious models. In 1965, Jeep created the M715 for the Vietnam War. Today Kia still makes it. Plus, other countries use it as well.
What’s in a Name?
Now here’s a fact that may shock you. It relates to the world Jeep. What is a Jeep? Over the years, many tried to explain the name. The theory that holds the most weight is that it was because Jeep was made for the military. At the time, the Jeep ended up becoming known as a GP or Government Purpose/General Purpose. It eventually evolve into Jeep. Willys President Joe Frazer states to have come up with the name.
Interestingly enough, they used the term Jeep prior to World War One. However, it was slang for new recruits or vehicles. Tractors supplied to the Army also became known as Jeeps in the late 1930s. Even a model bomber became known as a Jeep.
At The Pentagon, there is a library that contains a book with all military slang. Here is what it had to say regarding Jeeps back in 1942:
- Jeep: A four-wheel drive vehicle of one-half- [0.45 tonnes] to one-and-one-half-ton [1.4 tonnes] capacity for reconnaissance or other army duty. A term applied to the Bantam cars, and occasionally to other motor vehicles (U.S.A.) in the Air Corps, the Link Trainer; in the armored forces, the 1⁄2-ton [0.45 tonnes] command vehicle. Also referred to as “any small plane, helicopter, or gadget.”
Regardless of the theories, the name Jeep came to stay.
Who Owns Jeep?
Jeep went through many owners nearly every decade since its creation. It started under Willys-Overland, yet later owners included Kaiser Jeep, AMC, Chrysler, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Who owns Jeep now? In 2021, Fiat Chrysler would sell the ownership of Jeep to Stellantis. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the PSA Group from France merged to become this corporation. John Elkann is the Chairman of the company and Carlos Tavares is the CEO. As of 2021, Stellantis is the fifth-largest automobile creator in the world.
Other designs that Stellantis has includes:
- and more
Jeep equates a startup success. The company became a huge game changer for both civilian usage and wartime. Now that you know who owns Jeep, use the company as a success story. It goes to show that hard work pays off.