by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
While its production lines may be shut down right now, and many workers headed to furlough, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is still set on introducing an electrified Jeep Wrangler Rubicon into the United States, according to its global brand president.
And in doing so, the company believes it can become “the greenest, most sustainable SUV company in the world”, said Jeep Global Brand President Christian Meunier.
“There are so many things we need to bring together to make Jeep a modern, contemporary brand that will break through and sustain for the next 80 years,” Meunier said earlier this week during an interview with Autocar. “That’s a big transition in our world.”
“There was a little evolution every year, but there’s a big revolution happening now. To make Jeep the greenest, most sustainable SUV company is a little bit of a challenge, but it’s the most exciting one.”
No timetable was given for electrified Wrangler roll out, however the company has previously indicated it wanted electrification in many of its vehicles by 2022.
Meunier said he believes the U.S. is set to move into electrified vehicles faster than most people think, and that going electric will be an “opportunity to improve the capabilities of our trucks and SUVs, and make it even more exciting off-road and on-road.”
FCA’s primary focus now is on three electrified models—Wrangler, Compass and Renegade. Both the Compass and Renegade models were introduced last year, while the Wrangler was unveiled back in January at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show.
As far as the electric Wrangler, which is currently undergoing cold weather testing in Sweden, the plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) will have an all-electric range of about 31 miles, while utilizing a gasoline engine to provide assistance, similar to how the company’s Chrysler Pacifica operates.
Pacifica employs the company’s 3.6L Pentastar engine as a compliment to a 16.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that fully charges in two hours on a 240-volt, 30-amp circuit.
FCA has not yet announced the type of gasoline engine the Wrangler would receive.
FCA originally planned to unveil specifications on the electrified Wrangler during the Geneva Auto Show back in early March, but the show was canceled due to the emerging coronavirus. Other subsequent auto shows, including New York and Detroit were also canceled, and FCA has yet to release any other vehicle specifications.
Meunier indicated in its fully electric form, the Wrangler Rubicon will be able to go from 0-60 mph in six seconds, and outperform the gasoline or diesel Wrangler.
“You’re going to get the most capable Jeep ever,” he said.
Of course, for the off-road crowd, Wrangler acceleration isn’t as crucial as torque, and electrified vehicles certainly offer plenty to go around—as well as immediate engine response.
Additionally, high-voltage EV batteries would make a great external power source for those who plan on taking the Jeep on longer term adventures, as the battery can power a variety of electrical equipment including compressors, power tools, lights and camping gear.
But, again, bringing that kind of electrified vehicle to the U.S. involves the willingness of a company, and Meunier believes FCA is ready.
“Either you try to be compliant and do the bare minimum, or you embrace it and go full speed on it,” Meunier said. “The latter is the way we should go, because we have the opportunity to make some really, really exciting products, and I think the company is convinced of that. You’ll see a lot of electrified products in the next few years. It’s not about having small cars to offset big cars; every car will have a role to play.”