For 75 years, the Jeep brand has been well known for an ability to bring Nature closer to its owners.  Soon, while enjoying the best Nature has to offer, Jeep owners will also be able to help out Mother Nature in return.

Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) announced plans today during a business update for investors, that it will offer a mild hybrid option on the next generation Wrangler - widely expected for 2017-18.  While no specifications were released in the announcement, the hybrid Wrangler would join a newly unveiled Jeep Pickup and Wrangler diesel as the company seeks to drastically increase its footprint in the red-hot SUV industry.

"We've seen a significant shift in the product mix of cars being sold in the U.S.," FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said on a conference call Wednesday. “Jeep has had a phenomenal year. We’re well in excess of 1.2 million cars, more than 200,000 than we sold last year, and as we deploy the architecture globally, you will see this number increase.”

The product news, posted in its updated business plan, also said FCA believes low gas prices are here to stay, and it must focus its energy on developing the SUVs and pickups Americans want and are buying in record numbers.

"We have decided to de-focus, from the manufacturing standpoint, to de-focus on the passenger car market," Marchionne said. "Without creating additional capacity, in the United States, we need to ... to try and deal with the development of (the) Jeep brand."

FCA said it is now aiming to sell more than 2 million Jeeps globally by 2018, an increase from its prior target of 1.9 million.  Marchionne added FCA has made decisions internally to help the company achieve the production capacity it needs, and will begin to implement over the next 18 months.  Part of those plans include moving the Jeep Cherokee from its Toledo, Ohio plant to another location - thus opening production ability for the Wrangler (pictured above).

The need to meet stricter emissions requirements is the driving force behind its decision to offer diesel and hybrid powertrain options on the next generation Wrangler, FCA said.  The upcoming redesign is also speculated to include a switch to an aluminum construction to save weight and increase fuel economy.

While the next generation Wrangler will offer a mild hybrid option, FCA said it is hoping to swap to a full hybrid system around 2022.

The Jeep brand recorded sales of more than 1.2 million units worldwide in 2015 – the highest total in its 75-year history – setting a global sales record for the fourth consecutive year.  Sales of 1,237,583 Jeep vehicles improved upon the brand’s 2014 global record of 1,017,019 by 22 percent.  In the U.S., sales of 865,028 units bettered the 2014 total of 692,348 units by 25 percent.

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