Jeep is moving forward with its plan to electrify its crossovers and SUVs as it seeks to catch up with rivals that are already producing electrified vehicles.
Tesla launched the electric Model X SUV in late 2015. The battery-electric all-wheel drive 2019 Jaguar I-Pace arrives at U.S. dealers this fall.
Jeep, which sells only crossovers and SUVs, is just beginning to add electrification to its lineup.
A mild-hybrid version of the recently introduced Jeep Wrangler will arrive in showrooms within the next few weeks. A plug-in hybrid version of the Wrangler will go on sale in 2020, likely as a 2021 model.
“That’s just the natural evolution we’re seeing in the industry,” Scott Tallon, director of Jeep brand at FCA – North America, told Trucks.com. “As consumers continue to demand more of this technology and convenience we’ll continue to develop our Jeeps that way.”
That could push Jeep into developing a battery-electric model. The global nature of the brand suggests that EVs might become a necessary part of the overall mix from both regulatory and consumer-demand points of view. Tallon, however, declined to comment on when or if a full-electric Jeep will arrive.
Tallon said he expected the low-emissions aspect of electrification to appeal to Jeep enthusiasts. “Our customers care about the environment,” he said.
“Jeep’s efforts into EV products will be interesting. They are looking to develop vehicles which leverage benefits of EV powertrains to enhance the capability Jeeps are known for. Expect off-road capability to be part of the package,” said Stephanie Brinley, an analyst with IHS Markit.
Electric drive has the potential to enhance the capabilities of off-road vehicles by delivering instant driving torque to the axle or even the individual wheel with the best traction
Both Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace use two-motor all-wheel drive systems. One motor powers the rear axle; the other motor powers the front axle. The current Tesla Model X’s largest battery pack is 100kWh, offering a claimed range of 289 miles. The I-Pace’s 90kWh battery delivers estimated range of up to 240 miles.
“I expect that a Jeep EV will have a sufficiently Jeep personality, based on the company’s ability to execute on that point extremely well in most efforts,” Brinley said. “Initially, it won’t see much volume, but it can demonstrate the brand is progressive enough to be able to embrace change, and I think that mentality aligns well with Jeep purists, as long as the capability is there.”