After revealing its seventh-generation Wrangler at the Los Angeles motor show, Jeep has confirmed it is developing a plug-in hybrid version of its iconic off-roader.
Speaking to TMR moments after unveiling the new Wrangler which is due to arrive in Australia late next year, head of the American off-road brand, Mike Manley, said a radical petrol-electric version will arrive in 2020 and will be the first in a series of planned hybrid Jeep models.
"It is inevitable that Jeep will go through more electrification, particularly as we get into the '20s - the systems will be different but you will see more electrification for sure," he told TMR.
Manley conceded the decision to introduce a more fuel-efficient option on the Wrangler first was to "future-proof" the iconic four-wheel drive over the next decade.
"One of the things we really wanted to do was to future-proof this vehicle. It is the icon of the brand and we all know that as we get into the 20s, depending on which region you are in, obviously the fuel economy and emission regulations are getting stricter," he said.
"So, for us, it was about future-proofing the Wrangler for generations to come."
The new electric-hybrid drivetrain will be one of the biggest changes in the Jeep model’s history, but Manley says the Wrangler PHEV will not be compromised in its capabilities.
"In terms of packaging, we are making sure it is not intrusive in the vehicle as well as its capabilities. That is an important consideration for us," he said.
"I would say - as a very, very transparent answer - when I was thinking through electrification, the initial thought was that we have to do this because of all the changes coming through. But when we think about the appropriate use of electrification, particularly the torque management at the low-end, it can help control that torque.
"To me, it makes a lot of sense to have it in our vehicles and enhance its capabilities and reap the benefits of fuel economy that comes with it. The only real question is how you want to calibrate it. I think the engineers have struck a really good balance."
Manley was reluctant to confirm any more details, including which engine it will be mated to, its intended electric-only driving range and whether it will be available on both two-door and four-door body styles.
Jeep is also likely to include a plug-in hybrid powertrain in its next-generation Grand Cherokee which is due to be revealed in the next 18 months, with other models such as the smaller Renegade, Compass and Cherokee also seeing a move toward plug-in electric technology as Jeep electrifies its entire range.
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