Jeep, the manufacturer of America’s least fuel-efficient vehicle, is planning to become the world’s most sustainable SUV company. Back at CES 2020 in January, Jeep unveiled plug-in-hybrid 4xe editions of the Wrangler, Compass, and Renegade. More recently, though, Jeep boss Christian Meunier told Autocar that Jeep is working on battery electric vehicles — and said an eventual Wrangler Rubicon EV could be “the most capable Jeep ever.”
Meunier told Autocar that Jeep viewed going green as a two-fold challenge, one that would permit them not just to reduce emissions but also improve performance.
“Think about a Wrangler Rubicon, full electric or PHEV,” Meunier said. “That car is going to do 0-60 mph in six seconds, potentially, so you’re going to get acceleration you’re never going to see with an engine.”
Now, Jeep may not seem like an obvious choice to go electric; off-road SUVs are notoriously fuel-thirsty, and FCA has been a notable electrification laggard. But as new companies like Rivian and Bollinger have shown, the same off-road SUVs Jeep specializes in are a natural fit for electrification. Large SUVs can more easily accommodate the weight of big battery packs, and an ECV’s lower center of gravity and the ability to send instant torque to individual wheels can make them even more badass off-roaders. Plus, the battery in an electric vehicle can also serve as a power source for camping.
Meunier did not bring up what sort of timeline these electric Jeeps might arrive on.That said, his predecessor Michael Manley — currently Fiat-Chrysler’s CEO — said in 2018 that Jeep planned to bring four EVs to market by 2022. (That said, much as GM could tell you, the recent coronavirus pandemic may delay that timeline.)
While converting to electric power will be a departure for Jeep, one could argue no automotive brand has been better in the past few decades at evolving while preserving its core identity. Jeep fans have embraced both the four-door Wrangler and improved automatic transmissions over the last decade. We’re guessing Jeep fans will really get behind a ton of torque and not paying for gas.
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