Since Groupe PSA expressed an interest in buying up Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Jeep brand has ramped up talk about the merits of electrification – particularly in places like Europe. The off-road-focused brand even has a plan to offer zero-emissions compliant vehicles in every segment by 2025. However, the only vehicle Jeep’s currently producing that seems to support those claims is the Wrangler 4XE PHEV and it’s still dependent on gasoline for journeys beyond 21 miles.
But that’s supposed to be changing now that the rumor mill is flush with new suggestions that Jeep is working on a small SUV that will be wholly dependent upon electrical propulsion. Those claims have been confirmed by Jeep’s leadership, with hints that it might be getting a few friends.
Auto Express has reported that the brand is currently considering a pint-sized model occupying the space below the Renegade, with Mark Allen (Jeep’s head of exterior design) confirming that it’s something they’re working on. But that’s not going to be where the electrification ends.
“We’re looking at every segment possible,” Allen said before suggesting that it could include something priced – but likely not sized – above the new Wagoneer.
“Renegade is a B-segment so obviously there’s room below that and that’s something we’re looking at. But we’re probably not looking at something larger than Wagoneer – it’s a beast!”
From Auto Express:
Allen also hinted that other new Jeep models are being considered in addition to the smaller model. “There are a couple of other forks in the road that we’re looking to cover,” he said. “But I’ve got to point out that just a few years ago we had three vehicles and we’re up to this line-up that we have now – we’ve been extremely busy, and it’s really been pushed by market demand and worldwide coverage.
“There’s been tremendous growth to the brand in a short amount of time.”
Although Allen wouldn’t be drawn on what a new baby Jeep would look like, it’s a safe bet to assume it would feature traditional Jeep styling cues like the seven-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel openings and short front and rear overhangs. “We always refer to the very first Jeep when we start a new project,” Allen confirmed.
Though, even if it has the look, something tells us that the chances of it coming to America are modest at best. North American Renegade sales reliably eclipsed 100,000 deliveries a few years ago. But Jeep only moved 62,847 units in the United States last year, with another 362 going to Canada. The model has undoubtedly lost ground to the slightly larger Compass, which enjoyed a sales increase right around the time consumers stopped finding the Renegade less appetizing. But it’s also become subject to increased competition and America’s preference for purchasing larger vehicles whenever possible.
Based on earlier reports, Jeep’s small electric would likely have counterparts at both Fiat and Alfa Romeo. Stellantis has said that small EVs will likely use its e-CMP platform, as would prefer former FCA products to adopt PSA’s architecture. While there’s a new version of the platform coming in 2022, every model using the current edition is front-wheel drive. That’s a phenomenon likely to carry over for e-CMP 2.0, which doesn’t seem very Jeep.
However Auto Express noted that the planned electric could wait for the all-electric STLA Small platform that can accommodate motors on each axle, allowing for all-wheel drive and much-improved range over e-CMP. Unfortunately, that architecture isn’t expected to debut until 2026 and the claimed range is “up to 300 miles” using the largest battery packs. It’s sounding good but a V6-equipped, gasoline-powered Wrangler can still surpass 400 miles easily and will almost assuredly be more competent off-road than Jeep’s first attempt at a battery-electric crossover – not that they’re even supposed to be directly comparable vehicles.
Your author is just worried that France is going to attempt to Euro up traditionally American brands like Jeep and Dodge and lose that je ne sais quoi that made them desirable in the first place. But we recently discussed how manufacturers are already ditching small, gasoline-driven automobiles over regulatory concerns and profitability deficits. There may be no other way for Stellantis to ride this bull.[Image: NeydtStock/Shutterstock]
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