The Jeep brand has long prided itself on its vehicles being rugged, reliable, and “Trail Rated”, causing the brand to perhaps hold on to some engines a bit too long. But going forward, Jeep knows it must compete in a global stage where emissions regulations dictate the use of modern engines. Jeep has already indicated it will employ turbodiesel engines, and hybrid drivetrains could be up next.
Jeep’s Asia-Pacific Product Manager Steve Bartoli told Australia’s Drive that the brand is “…absolutely looking at different things in that field and we are very active behind the scenes in the development of these [hybrid] systems and how it fits into our profile.” Makes it seem like a hybrid Jeep is inevitable, and it probably is, but don’t get too excited.
Bartoli continued saying that a hybrid Jeep could offer a new world of potential in the world of off-road, though reliability remains a sticking point. While electric motors are fairly simple and dependable devices, there are concerns regarding the battery packs and delicate computer systems under the harsh, extreme conditions some Jeeps experience. No wonder Jeep decided to pursue more reliable and rugged diesel engines first. That said, talk of Chrysler and electrification have been around for years now.
So what Jeep would be the first to get a hybrid? I predict that Jeep will launch a Grand Cherokee Hybrid first, to help absorb development costs with a higher-priced product. But the new Jeep Cherokee could also be a potential candidate, as could the Jeep Wrangler, which is also slated to get the 3.0 liter EcoDiesel V6.
For the average soccer mom reliving her youth via a four-door Wrangler though, those concerns are problem far from her mind. All she wants is the Jeep badge and look combined with fuel economy that doesn’t squeeze her pocketbook dry at every gas pump. And who knows? Off-roaders could learn to love a simple hybrid system that can be better-controlled than the standard 4×4 systems we know and love.