Today the Jeep brand is celebrating its 70th anniversary. It was 15 July 1941 when the Willys-Overland military model was produced. It was the forerunner of the first 4x4 Jeep model for civilian use, the CJ-2A. Since then the US brand has continued to evolve and has introduced models for civilian use capable of meeting the public's mobility needs and of letting them live out their desire for freedom.
As a climax to this important occasion Jeep recorded extraordinary sales results in the first half of 2011. The brand has already registered more vehicles than in all of 2010 in Italy (3,738 compared to the 3,617 of the whole of last year), with 77 per cent growth year-on-year, also thanks to a complete updating of the range. June was also the best month for the brand since July 2008. And in the first month of its sale with the diesel engine, the Jeep Grand Cherokee attained an excellent result with an 11.4 per cent share in the large SUV segment.
Sales performance in Europe was just as outstanding. More than 11,000 Jeep vehicles were registered in the first six months of 2011, 27,4% more than the same period of last year. Sales this year already correspond to 72,9 per cent of all registrations in 2010.
The four mainstays of Jeep DNA lie at the heart of these sales successes: style, functionality, craftsmanship and benchmark off-road capabilities. A world of references is concealed by the four letters of the word "Jeep". The US brand, which has become synonymous with off-road driving in common use, is universally known for its unmistakable seven-slot grille and trapezoidal wheel arches. Four letters refer to benchmark off-road capabilities for tackling any adventure. From the brand's symbol, the Jeep Wrangler, to the new compact SUV Jeep Compass, every Jeep vehicle has a seven-decade saga made up of extraordinary journeys and a passion for the outdoors to tell.
The brand's anniversary is not just a prestigious milestone, but also the starting point leading to the challenges of the future. To face them, Jeep can rely on a widespread dealership network located in 120 countries around the world. In the Old World, the integration process between the Fiat and Chrysler groups has given rise to a new network of over 430 dealers - operational from last month - of which some consolidated over the years and some new, selected for their skills and knowledge and their interest and enthusiasm in this legendary brand.
This is how a more efficient and higher quality commercial organisation for the distribution of the new products range, spare parts and services was born. Specifically, for its seventieth anniversary, the US brand will be introducing the evolutions of four models in Europe. Like the legendary Jeep Wrangler and its four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited version, revised and equipped with Stop/Start technology - for the first time on a Jeep - and a more powerful, more fuel-efficient engine. 2011 will also be the year of the new Grand Cherokee powered by a highly anticipated turbo diesel engine. The flagship shares the same design concepts as the new Compass, the Jeep family compact SUV.
The present allure of the brand dates back to 1941, when the Willys-Overland model, the forerunner of the first Jeep model for civilian use, called the CJ-2A, was produced to meet the military needs of the United States Army. The CJ-2A vehicle went into standard production in 1945, and is generally considered the first off-road vehicle of the automotive industry. The brand transferred the four-wheel drive system to a station wagon in 1946 with the Jeep Station Wagon, introducing the Sport Utility Vehicle concept. And in 1963, with the Jeep Wagoneer, Jeep invented the premium Large SUV segment.
From 1941 until today Jeep has continued to be the symbol of freedom, adventure, authenticity, passion and uniqueness. Freedom as a state of mind and determination in following one's instincts with the confidence of being able to take up any challenge thanks to benchmark off-road capabilities. Adventure as a vocation. Authenticity because Jeep is the "original" brand, the first to have explored the outdoors, to become its undisputed leader and to have turned driving experience into an extraordinary event. Passion as an impulse to live out one's own individuality in a powerful and distinctive way. Uniqueness or knowing how to stand out in the crowd thanks to absolutely unmistakable characteristics.
Turin, 15 July 2011