Flush from the Wrangler 4xe’s success, Jeep details its electrified future
As the automotive landscape continues to shift towards electrification, Jeep is wasting no time on its own transformation. The evolution began a few years back with the advent of the Wrangler 4xe, a plug-in hybrid version of the iconic off-roader that could travel up to 25 miles on battery-fed juice. Then, the 4xe nameplate found its way onto the all-new Grand Cherokee and Grand Cherokee L. While both of these are intriguing models—the Wrangler 4xe is the #1 selling plug-in hybrid in the U.S. today—they were merely stop-gaps for a brand in desperate need of all-electric buzz.
Yesterday, Jeep announced the next steps in its electrification plan at an event it called 4xe Day. By 2025, the brand will unveil four all-electric nameplates for the U.S. market as well as four for the European market. It’s expected that some of the models will be shared across the ocean, but each market will get a few unique models as well. Additionally, the entire Jeep portfolio will offer electrified options (plug-in hybrid or series hybrid), including the Wagoneer family. Jeep also said that by 2030, one of every two models sold here in the states will be of the battery-electric variety, and that every vehicle sold in Europe will be a BEV.
Christian Meunier, Jeep’s global CEO, used the phrase “4xe is the new 4×4” multiple times during the presentation. Jeep sees electrification as an additive to the brand’s off-road oriented image, citing the usefulness of instantaneous electric torque in off-road scenarios. The 4xe strategy, he said, will “help ensure millions of Jeep fans around the world continue to have a planet to explore, embrace, and protect.”
The event included the world premier of three new BEVs, two for the U.S. market and one for Europe. In the states, a new model called the Recon will add to Jeep’s off-road-focused portfolio. It draws heavily on design cues from the Wrangler—upright windshield, low beltline, stubby overhangs, burly wheels and tires, and even fully removable doors—but rest assured, Stellantis’ design chief Ralph Gilles made it clear that the Recon was not going to replace the Wrangler. Jeep says production for the Recon will be based in North America and will start in 2024. (A more detailed look at the Recon will be live on Hagerty’s media site later this week.)
The second U.S. vehicle will wear the Wagoneer nameplate. Dubbed the Wagoneer S for now, this all-new, all-electric mid-size crossover SUV has stylish body lines including a swept-back D-pillar to scallop the rear roofline and a large floating rear wing. Up front, the Wagoneer’s signature forward-canted, seven-slot grille ditches the rectangular inserts seen in existing Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer models, replacing them with more trapezoidal lines. Like the Recon, the new Wagoneer S will be built in North America, and production will start some time in 2024. More details about the Wagoneer S can be found in the September 8, 2022 edition of The Manifold.
European and Asian markets will get an all-new BEV that is set to arrive on a much shorter timeline. It’s called the Avenger, and it actually debuted earlier this spring. At the time, we expected it to be the first North American BEV, but yesterday’s announcements proved us wrong. The Avenger is actually smaller than the Jeep Renegade, and Meunier made it clear that while the segment is red-hot overseas, there’s not a sufficient business case to bring such a small ute to the states. Plus, such a petite machine isn’t a great face for an electric revolution in a market in which bigger is usually better.
Fair enough. Jeep is targeting 400 kilometers (249 miles) of range for the spritely CUV, and says it will have stout approach and breakover angles for its segment, and that it will still offer plenty of room for people and cargo. It’s set to debut at the Paris Motor Show on October 17, with reservations opening that same day. The Avenger will arrive in European and Asian showrooms in early 2023.
In the plug-in hybrid world, we’ll see a new powertrain option for the gargantuan Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer models. Although the gas-powered component wasn’t specified, it’s likely that Jeep will employ variations of its new 3-liter twin-turbo Hurricane straight-six to pair with a battery pack and electric motors. We know the Hurricane is headed for the extended-wheelbase Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L, and that a few variants of the shorter Grand Wagoneer are already putting the high-output variant (510 hp and 500 lb-ft) of the Hurricane between the frame rails. Stellantis engineers designed the Hurricane from the outset to work in hybrid applications, and these brutes are too hefty to employ the meager 2-liter four cylinder mill found in 4xe applications of the Grand Cherokee or the Wrangler. So equipped, a Wagoneer with the 4xe powertrain will deliver a targeted 500 miles of estimated range.
On the surface, these next steps seem both logical and solid for the beloved Jeep brand. We certainly won’t say no to another off-road-ready machine, especially one that can provide precisely meted torque to the wheels. The Wagoneer S is sure to turn the heads of a few Audi e-Tron buyers, maybe even some who’d otherwise wind up in a Tesla Model Y. More details are expected to shake out about all of the new models in the coming months. We’ll be ready and waiting.
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