Jeep Hints At Future Plug-In Hybrid

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 16

Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

Let’s bring all the players into the plugged-in mix.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep Grand Cherokee

It seems even the iconic Jeep brand is now considering adding a plug-in hybrid setup to some or all of its exiting vehicles.

According to Drive, a hybrid “Jeep is inevitable.”

Looming emissions regulations will eventually force Jeep to electrify, but what route will the brand choose?

Chrysler’s Asia-Pacific product planning manager, Steve Bartoli, told Drive the following:

“We are absolutely looking at different things in that field and we are very active behind the scenes in the development of these systems and how it fits into our profile.”

“With greenhouse gas and regulatory constraints around the world, it is definitely pushing our hand in that way but we haven’t made any decisions on that and we’re not ready to talk about that.”

“There is a lot of opportunity there [for Jeep to pioneer hybrid off-road systems].”

This Jeep Plug-In Hybrid Prototype Was Revealed Back in 2008

This Jeep Plug-In Hybrid Prototype Was Revealed Back in 2008

While none of those comments necessarily suggest a plug-in hybrid, it’s the electrified option that makes the most sense to us.  Conventional hybrids haven’t established themselves as performance machines, but there exists several plug-in hybrids that outperform the ICE versions of the same model.

If performance, torque and go-anywhere matter to Jeep, then plug-in hybrid is the route the brand will choose.

Why not pure electric?  As Bartoli states:

“We always want to make sure a Jeep can get you home.”

“These are very complex and expensive systems, not just for us to develop but also for the consumers. Not only that, but range is a very important issue and we need to make sure how we can fit that into our systems because you don’t want to be stuck in a creek in an electric Jeep that is going nowhere.”

“It is still a big problem in that regard so we need to understand it a bit more.”

Jeep understands that electric motors provide instant torque, which would be useful in the off-road environment, but the amount of torque a Jeep needs would suggest to us that a conventional hybrid setup won’t suffice, so we say it’ll be the plug-in hybrid route that Jeep eventually chooses.

*I bet you’re now wondering what the specs were on that 2008 Jeep plug-in hybrid prototype shown in the image to your right.  Here’s the rundown:

  • The electric motor generated 200 kW (268 HP) and 400 Nm (295 lb.-ft.) of torque
  • Total range was 400 miles
  • Electric range was 40 miles
  • 0 to 60 mph was 9 seconds
  • Top speed was 90 mph

Source: Drive

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16 responses to "Jeep Hints At Future Plug-In Hybrid"

  1. David Stone says:

    “…range is a very important issue …because you don’t want to be stuck in a creek in an electric Jeep that is going nowhere.”

    Isn’t that the case for any vehicle?
    At least with an ev, you could take out a solar panel and wait a week.
    With an ice, you couldn’t move any further if you waited a millenia.

    1. Open-Mind says:

      They’re just making excuses IMHO. Most Jeeps are not used in the wilderness.

      But if they offered a 2-motor AWD Wrangler, I would definitely buy that over an i3, assuming similar price/performance/range.

    2. Brian says:

      I think the mentality is more that a Jeep could be rescued with a portable gas can. Waiting for a week while your solar panels slowly charge your car is hardly appealing to someone “stuck in a creek”.

      And just because most Jeeps aren’t used in the wilderness doesn’t mean none are. My friend’s step father will just randomly drive his into the back woods of NH on his commute home, just to mix things up. Others buy Jeeps because of the possibilities (even if they are never actually realized).

      I think a PHEV Jeep is a good fit for the brand, but I worry about the buyer demographic’s acceptance of the technology more than the company’s implementation.

      1. David Stone says:

        I know what you mean, but of course it might be quite a hike to fill that can and bring it back 😉

        Also I doubt there are many people who drive a whole gas tank’s worth of miles through the wilderness, so for them the gas version is the one they would chose anyway, so there should not be a problem with this.

        1. Nix says:

          No need to hike to get a can of gas. Just grab a full can off the back, and fill ‘er up. Most even modestly serious offroaders have the 5 gallon red army-style cans mounted on aftermarket swing-out tire carriers that are required to carry oversized spare tires. (The standard spare tire carrier on the back of a Wrangler sucks for oversized tires, so everyone gets an aftermarket tire carrier when they install oversized tires.) They are ubiquitous among Jeepers, along with the iconic Hi-Lift Jack.

          I agree that we Jeepers would definitely choose a gas or diesel over a pure EV. A PHEV would be an option, but it would be really expensive to add the costs of a PHEV drivetrain on top of an already expensive Rubicon model that offroaders prefer.

          1. David Stone says:

            “Just grab a full can off the back”
            That is still a fixed, set range. It just means a slightly larger gas tank, more reserve.

            You still would never be able to procure more fuel in the wilderness when you run out.

            1. Nix says:

              I see, pure survival situation, like a post apocalyptic disaster where you are caught completely unprepared and have to flee to the mountains. (Because if it weren’t a survival situation, I’d just grab the second gas can off the tire rack and be back to the trail head…)

              I’m pretty sure I could figure out how to build a moonshine distillery, and run a gas engine on moonshine much faster than most folks could fabricate a solar panel, and a power inverter to convert DC solar output to AC power that most EV’s need to plug into.

              Besides, I could use the gas or moonshine along with a fuel pump and a spark plug to build a flame thrower to use against the Zombie hoards.

              1. David Stone says:

                Second gas can: same difference.

                Panels exist and can be carried in the car.

                Moonshine distilleries exist but are not as readily available in portable form.
                Good luck finding the materials in the wilderness and building it from scratch.

                It would be difficult to get away from the hoards if you are using all your fuel to burn them 😉

  2. Open-Mind says:

    It sounds like you are describing people who should continue to purchase an ICE Jeep, which they should also (IMHO) continue to make.

    1. Brian says:

      Why? If someone has one car, that happens to be a Jeep, and likes to go offroading on occasion, wouldn’t it be great if they could do their commute on electricity, but still take that same car off road? As noted in the article, the extra torque from the electric motor would be very useful in surmounting boulders / steep inclines.

      1. Open-Mind says:

        RECAP: I stated I would purchase a 2-motor 4WD Wrangler if available.. You seemed to assert Jeep should not make one because it would not appeal to some Wrangler owners. If so, I disagree with that assertion. if not, I misunderstood your point.

        1. Brian says:

          I apologize if that seemed to be implied. I certainly wouldn’t be against such a Jeep. In fact, there’s no reason you couldn’t make one motor an ICE and the other electric.

          My point wasn’t that Jeep shouldn’t make a BEV, but that a EREV would be a good fit for their brand. They’re pretty much the only road vehicle that can truly go off road. Most other SUVs are simply higher power, more stylized minivans – i.e. people movers.

          I was actually responding to David’s comment, not yours. It goes back to the mentality of the typical Jeep buyer (extrapolating from the handful that I know personally, which can be dangerous of course).

          1. Open-Mind says:

            I misunderstood. Thanks for the clarification. 🙂

  3. Schmeltz says:

    Better late than never I guess. That picture takes me back to the whimsical days of the long defunct “ENVI” program. A lot of hearts were broken when that Jeep Wrangler EREV got cancelled.

  4. Nix says:

    I’m one of those crazy folks who owns a Jeep for real off-roading, and has a different car for a daily driver. I see it from a couple of different perspectives.

    1) An EV-only Jeep wouldn’t be able to replace my Jeep, because unless they put a Model S P85 drivetrain into it, it probably wouldn’t even get me to the trailhead and back, much less run a trail. I love pure EV’s, and a pure EV could replace my daily driver, but not my Jeep.

    2) A PHEV 2 door Wrangler Rubicon with locking axles and a 40 mile range PHEV drivetrain could actually replace both my daily driver and my Jeep. Because I could use it on weekdays in pure electric mode and never buy gas, while still being able to off-road it.

    But I don’t really expect Jeep to build such vehicle because there are so few people like me who love both green cars and offroading. So….

    3) I’m just crossing my fingers they will offer their new 6-cyl diesel in a 2 door manual Rubicon, and that they certify it with B20 biodiesel. That’s about as green as I really expect to ever get to replace my current 13 MPG (if I’m lucky) Jeep Wrangler for what I use it for. Folks on offroad boards say they want diesels, I never hear them say they want EV/PHEV’s.

    In conclusion, Nobody (including Jeep) should even bother thinking about customers like me when it comes to building their first generation of EV’s or PHEV’s. They should make their EV’s or PHEV’s for all the buyers who use them for other uses.

  5. Peter says:

    I own a 2012 Wrangler now and love taking it off-road. I plan to go full-time RVing in about 7 years with solar panels on the roof of the RV. Heck, yea, give me a hybrid Jeep and I’ll trade up.