The Jeep is an American brand of automobiles that solely includes sport utility vehicles (SUV) and off-road vehicles. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, an Italian-American corporation.
Fiat Chrysler sells mass-market models in the passenger car, SUV, truck, and light commercial vehicle segments. Its expansive lineup of nameplates include Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, all-new Jeep Commander, Dodge Journey, Dodge Durango, and Alfa Romeo Stelvio in the SUV and crossover space; the Fiat 500, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Carger, Dodge Challenger, and minivans in the passenger car segment; and light and heavy-duty pickup trucks including the Ram 1500 and 2500/3500, the Fiat Fullback, and the Fiat. It also manufactures light commercial vehicles such as the Fiat Professional Doblo, Fiat Professioal Ducato, and Ram ProMaster in its product portfolio. Availability of these models varies per market.
Fiat Chrysler has a total of 198,545 employees worldwide, excluding those of certain joint ventures. Most of them, about 49 percent, are based in North America, while 33 percent sit in Europe.
Among known automobile brands in the market today, Jeep, perhaps, has one of the most interesting origins. The Jeep has the Second World War as backdrop for its beginnings – it was developed as a general-purpose vehicle that the Army could use in place of horses and motorcycles. There are even theories pointing out that the name "Jeep" is an evolved form of GP, the acronym for "general purpose."
The Jeep has a rather complicated backstory. The first vehicle that was called "Jeep" was designed by the American Bantam Car Company, which started manufacturing licensed copies of British Austin small cars. In 1940, the government initiated a bidding process for the supply of a small, four-wheel drive vehicle for military use. American Bantam participated, coming up with a prototype military Jeep designed by freelance car designer Karl Probst. However, the Army was not convinced that the car manufacturer could produce the volume that they required. The contract was awarded instead to Willys-Overland Moto Co. – a car maker based in Toledo, Ohio – that used, upon the Army's request, Probst's design as a guidepost in crafting its winning entry. A second production contract for the same design was awarded to Ford.
Willys and Ford together produced more than 637,000 Jeeps during the Second World War. The vehicle proved to be fast, tough, and agile. It also demonstrated its versatility on the battlefield, where not only it could mount a machine gun or carry anti-tank weapons, it also served as an ambulance.
After the war, Willys endeavored to repurpose the Jeep into a civilian vehicle which it dubbed as CJ-2A, where CJ served as acronym for "Civilian Jeep." The CJ would last for four decades, eventually giving way to the Wrangler, which continues to be sold in the market today. Willys also introduced models in different body forms, including a station wagon, a pickup truck, and a small convertible called the Jeepster.
In 1953, Willys was acquired by Kaiser Manufacturing Co., which, a decade later, became Kaiser-Jeep Corp, dropping the "Willys" name altogether. The renamed company would soon launch the Wagoneer, which is one of the earliest versions of the modern SUV. In 1969, the organization was bought by American Motors Corporation (AMC). Under AMC ownership, the Jeep produced one of its most popular nameplates – the XJ Cherokee. Launched in 1984, the XJ Cherokee is a unibody SUV that borrowed styling elements and off-road capabilities from the original Jeep. This model was responsible for elevating the Jeep brand to mainstream levels. While the Jeep brand flourished under AMC, the rest of the latter's car lineup did not. In 1987, the organization was purchased by Chrysler Corp.
In the 1990s, customer preferences shifted to SUVs in a major way, and Jeep was able to capitalize on that via the premium model Grand Cherokee, which was launched in 1992. On the ownership front, Jeep's parent company Chrysler merged with Daimler AG in 1998 and started to shift its focus on trucks and SUVs. The marriage was short-lived, however, and the 2008 recession pushed Chrysler into bankruptcy. Fortunately, Fiat came to the rescue, acquiring Chrysler to form what would eventually become Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Having survived a string of failed ownership, changing consumer preferences, and rapidly evolving market landscape – not to mention the Second World War – Jeep to this day remains a strong brand with a comprehensive product lineup.
In the Asia Pacific region, Fiat Chrysler sells through 100 percent-owned subsidiaries or through joint ventures with local independent dealers. In markets such as the Philippines where the company does not have a substantial presence, agreements with general distributors are in place.
The Jeep roster of vehicles include the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, Compass, Patriot, Wrangler, Wrangler Unlimited, and the all-new Jeep Renegade. Models are sold with gasoline and diesel powertrain options, depending on the market.
In the Philippines, all these models, except for the Compass and Patriot, are available. The Cherokee is a midsized SUV offered in just one engine option – a 2.4-liter Multi-air petrol engine that is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. There are two variants to choose from, namely Limited and Trailhawk, which comes outfitted with a four-wheel drive system. On top of its striking design, plush interior, and powerful engine, the Cherokee packs advance safety and driver-assist features such as adaptive cruise control, parallel and perpendicular park assist, lane departure warning, rear cross-path detection, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning with crash mitigation, anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), electronic stability program, electronic roll mitigation, rain brake support, and trailer sway control.
Now in its fourth generation, the Grand Cherokee continues to impress with superior build quality, powerful hardware, and smooth ride quality. This model, which serves as Jeep's flagship model globally, is a full-sized seven-seater SUV is available in the Philippines in three variants, namely Limited, Summit, and SRT 8. Limited comes in a 3.9-liter CRD Turbo Diesel engine that is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Summit, on the other hand, uses a 3.6-liter Penstar V6 with VVT powertrain mated to a six-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission. Lastly, the SRT 8 is offered in 6.4-liter SRT HEMI V8 MDS unit attached to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The Wrangler is a sturdy all-wheel drive that boasts of heavy-duty suspension, high ground clearance, powerful traction, and excellent maneuverability. It is available in two powertrain options – a 2.8-liter CRD unit and a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 petrol engine, both attached to a five-speed automatic transmission. The all-new 2018 Wrangler boasts of a significant improvement in fuel economy.
The Wrangler Unlimited is a five-door version of the Wrangler best known for its off-road capabilities and rugged looks. This SUV feels a bit rough around the edges, but that is how fans of this model like it. It uses the same 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 petrol engine found in some variants of the Wrangler, attached to either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission.
Lastly, the Renegade is an eye-catching sub-compact SUV. It adopts an out-of-the box styling both on its exterior and the inside cabin. Even though it is the smallest car in Jeep's product offerings locally, this model is armed with an adequate 1.4-liter turbocharged petrol engine that connects to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. It is also generous with safety features, which include ABS with EBD, brake assist, lane departure warning, vehicle stability management, all-speed traction control, and full speed collision warning, among others.
For the calendar year 2018, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sold a total of 4.8 million units globally, which represents a flat performance from a year-on-year standpoint. This figure covers mass-market and luxury vehicles produced at Fiat Chrysler-owned plants as well as those operated by joint ventures and third-party contract manufacturers. The United States is its biggest market, where it sold 2.2 million vehicles.
In Asia/Pacific, the sales volume reached 228,000 units in 2018, an 18 percent drop from its 2017 output. China, Japan, India, Australia, and South Korea are its biggest Asian markets. Together, these countries contributed 98 percent of total sales volume in the region.
In early 2018, Fiat Chrysler announced its plans to cease manufacturing diesel engines for its passenger cars in 2022. The announcement was made in light of the escalating cost of diesel cars, not to mention the dwindling demand for such vehicles. Diesel enjoyed several decades of fame as a cost-efficient and more environment-friendly alternative to gasoline. It has since dipped in popularity ever since Volkswagen admitted to having falsified fuel economy scores of 11 million diesel cars. Other major automakers, including Fiat Chrysler, Daimler, General Motors, Mitsubishi, and Suzuki, were also found or accused to have cheated on emissions testing. The organization has also increased its research efforts on reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Moving forward, Fiat Chrysler plans to divert efforts and investments in the development of electric vehicles instead.
Additionally, the company has also been looking into connectivity technologies as well as autonomous driving. It plans to launch in April 2019 a Telematics Box Module that would connect cars leaving the firm's production facilities to the Internet and to a cloud-based proprietary service delivery platform. Fiat Chrysler aims to have all their new vehicles to be connected by 2022.