Jeep's Green Wave Crashes Into Europe, Will Ripple Back to North America

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Fiat Chrysler’s reputation as an automaker that scoffs at fuel economy mandates is slowly being chipped away. Never mind the much-loathed Fiat 500e; it was the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid that really got the ball rolling, with eTorque-engined Ram 1500s upping the company’s green cred for 2019.

At this week’s Geneva Motor Show, the high-flying Jeep brand revealed the next salvo in its bid to lower corporate emissions while wooing eco-conscious (or heavily taxed) overseas buyers: Two crossovers, each bearing a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

While American consumers can expect a plug-in Wrangler hybrid sometime in 2020, Jeep’s Tuesday reveal focused on more Euro-friendly models. The subcompact Renegade and compact Compass both gain a plug-in hybrid system that mates a rear-mounted electric motor with the brand’s potent new 1.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

Debuting in the 2019 Compass, the gasoline engine makes 177 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque in U.S.-spec models. For these two plug-ins, FCA claims a combined output of 190 to 240 hp, with the Compass understandably earning the highest power figure.

All-electric range for both Renegade and Compass is 31 miles, with each vehicle said to be capable of 80 mph in EV mode and a seven-second 0-62 mph sprint. The Renegade and Compass PHEV mark the debut of Jeep’s eAWD system, which forgoes a mechanical connection between front and rear drive wheels.

“Thanks to the new electric all-wheel-drive technology (eAWD), traction to the rear axle is not provided by a prop shaft but through a dedicated electric motor,” FCA said. “This allows the two axles to be separated and to control the torque independently in a more effective way than a mechanical system.”

In last year’s five-year plan, the automaker said it hoped to offer 12 electrified powertrains globally by 2022, split among mild hybrids, hybrids, plug-ins, and fully electric vehicles. North America is said to get eight Jeep plug-ins by that target year, so expect to see this duo offered stateside, probably by the end of next year. The automaker has already revealed the Renegade PHEV’s availability in early 2020.

Last week’s plant investment announcement saw FCA reveal the future production of four PHEVs on American soil, as well as capacity for BEVs. Sitting atop Jeep’s green pyramid will be the plug-in Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
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  • Vulpine Vulpine on Mar 05, 2019

    One question though: "Debuting in the 2019 Compass, the gasoline engine makes 177 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque in U.S.-spec models. For these two plug-ins, FCA claims a combined output of 190 to 240 hp, with the Compass understandably earning the highest power figure." --- Why would the Compass, being bigger and heavier (albeit not by much) get, "...understandably ... the highest power figure"? If they're using the same engine and the same eHybrid drive, they should get almost identical figures. When comparing the gasoline-only versions, the Compass actually realizes a slight reduction in economy compared to the Renegade despite the Renegade's less-aerodynamic nose.

    • See 3 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Mar 05, 2019

      @whynot: The difference in weight when the new Compass came out was only about 100-150 pounds It's also only about 6" longer and I think 3" wider. Even so, it got about 1mpg lower 'combined' EPA, IIRC. I agree that Cd is only part of the equation, as is the frontal area. The only 'fixed' part of the equation is air density when the two are side by side.

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Mar 05, 2019

    Makes me wonder how they integrate the output of the elctric motor in back and the ICE up front. With mechanical AWD you get automatic correlation of front and rear axles. That's why Subaru kept its AWD system in their new hybrid. And no Mr Vulpine, I need no theorizing from you. Nothing I've read from you gives me any confidence you know what you're on about, and you're opinionated with it. I'm a mechanical engineer, so if you have some idea to fulminate upon, make it logical and defensible.

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    • Vulpine Vulpine on Mar 06, 2019

      @Scoutdude: "Because the only MG is the rear axle drive when it is working as a hybrid it will need to use those rear wheels to recharge the battery." --- This, I believe, is an invalid assumption. Using the motor/generator (MG) to recharge the battery when AWD is not in use creates drag on the front drivetrain, making the engine work harder than necessary. It takes a lot less juice to have the engine's alternator recharge the battery instead, as you say in the same manner as Toyota. There is nothing in any article I've read that claims the Jeep's system exclusively uses the rear MG to recharge the battery, only that it uses regerative braking to HELP recharge the battery.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X As much problems as I had with my '96 Chevy Impala SS.....I would love to try one again. I've seen a Dark Cherry Metallic one today and it looked great.
  • Susan O’Neil There is a good reason to keep the Chevrolet Malibu and other 4 door family sedans! You can transport your parents and other somewhat handicapped people comfortably and safety! If someone can stand and pivot you can put them in your car. An armrest in the back seat is appreciated and a handle above the door! Oh…and leather seats so your passenger can slide across the seat! 😊Plus, you can place a full sized wheelchair or walker in the trunk! The car sits a little lower…so it’s doable! I currently have a Ford Fusion and we have a Honda Accord. Our previous cars were Mercury Sables-excellent for transporting handicapped people and equipment! As the population ages-sedans are a very practical choice! POV from a retired handicapped advocate and daughter! 😊
  • Freddie Remember those ads that say "Call your doctor if you still have...after four hours"?You don't need to call your doctor, just get behind the wheel of a CUV. In fact, just look at one.I'm a car guy with finite resources; I can't afford a practical car during the week plus a fun car on the weekend. My solution is my Honda Civic Si 4 door sedan. Maybe yours is a Dodge Charger (a lot of new Chargers are still on dealer lots).
  • Daniel J Interesting in that we have several weeks where the temperature stays below 45 but all weather tires can't be found in a shop anywhere. I guess all seasons are "good enough".
  • Steve Biro For all the talk about sedans vs CUVs and SUVs, I simply can’t bring myself to buy any modern vehicle. And I know it’s only going to get worse.