By on October 26, 2020

One of the main reasons Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is partnering with PSA Group is to help soften the financial blows of battery development, we literally just talked about it. But the French automaker has its own reasons for wanting to get into bed with the FCA, namely its rather diverse list of subsidiaries  with Jeep occupying spot número uno.

Despite being offensively American to some, Jeep is the sixth most-popular nameplate in the United States. It also happens to be world-renowned as an off-road brand and had made strong inroads in places you’d never expect. This has forced the brand to rethink its global appeal, requiring Fiat Chrysler to issue some market-specific models like China’s Jeep Commander PHEV and the Renegade 4xe  the latter of which is already sold in Europe and slated to launch this November in Japan. But these models are only the tip of the iceberg as FCA intends on meeting ever-tightening emissions regulations in major markets that aren’t the United States.

Purists will undoubtedly cry foul here. For many, if it isn’t powered entirely by combustible fuels and body-on-frame then it’s an abomination unworthy of the Jeep name. But these people are increasingly finding themselves edged out of the conversation as aggressive mandates in China and Europe leave the company with fewer options. As a positive, these changes are assumed to help improve the brand’s global volume  especially in Japan where Jeep is already the best-selling American brand.

While positively dwarfed by the sales enjoyed by practically every Japanese brand selling domestically, Jeep still saw 13,360 deliveries in the Land of the Rising Sun in 2019  placing it right between Volvo and Peugeot. With help from the Renegade 4xe, Fiat Chrysler thinks it can improve those numbers for 2021. According to Automotive News, the automaker expects to sell roughly 4,000 Renegades in Japan next year to that end. Around 10 and 20 percent of those are presumed to be of the hybrid persuasion.

From AN:

That overall volume may not sound overwhelming compared with North American Jeep sales, but the hybrid Jeep’s arrival taps into growing Japanese interest in both the brand and electrified vehicles in general, especially hybrids.

“We understand we need to be present with electrified vehicles,” FCA Japan CEO Pontus Häggström said. “Japanese consumers are keen on technology. This is the latest technology the group has.”

Jeep intends on electrifying every single model in its lineup by 2022, specifically so it can continue doing business around the globe. Barring some regulatory changes in the United States, plenty probably won’t be targeting North American customers. But they’ll be handy in other markets where the average engine size is much lower. Jeep’s even going to hybridize the Wrangler (which will be sold in the U.S.) and promised it wouldn’t lose a single shed of its off-road prowess.

In the case of the Renegade 4xe, Fiat Chrysler ditched the standard powerplant for a 1.3-liter gas burner (front axle) and a 60-horsepower electric motor (rear axle) mated to an 11.4 kWh battery. Jeep even has a Trailhawk version of the hybrid that positively trumps the old 2.4-liter Tigershark’s maximum output with combined (electric/ICE) 238 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque.

That’s not too shabby and will undoubtedly make it an appetizing alternative to something like the Suzuki Jimny, which may soon have the non-electric, mini-SUV off-roading world all to itself. Though it was recently removed from the European market after its positively tiny motor failed to meet emission regulations for 2021. Suzuki has gotten around this by selling the tiny 4×4 as a “light commercial vehicle” while it attempts to figure out a more permanent solution. But if that doesn’t illustrate exactly why Jeep is so sprung on hybridization, nothing does.

[Images: FCA]

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16 Comments on “Jeep Easing Electrification Into Japanese Market, World to Follow...”

  • avatar

    Jeep über alles.

  • avatar

    That picture of the Renegade looks suspiciously like the Honda Model-E, if you think about it for a second.

  • avatar

    I’m a big PHEV advocate although world regulators do not seem interested in nurturing the technology. Instead, outside of Tesla, we look to end up with a bunch or either high-priced or half-a$$ed BEVs in order to comply with ICE bans and various other desires.

    Compare the RAV4 Prime to the Model Y Long Range, which is pretty much the killer app for a BEV crossover. It’s about $12,000 less to get into the Toyota and has a total 600 mile combined range (275 more than the Tesla), its 42 mile electric range covers a large majority of nonCOVID commuting and it uses the existing vast ICE infrastructure for longer trips. On the negative side it is about a second slower accelerating, probably won’t be as quiet, and will require around 2 oil changes each year. Going off the EPA website the “fuel” savings for the Tesla is only $200 each year. There are also some personal positives like getting a traditional interior layout and normal door handles on the Toyota but that has more to do with Telsa weirdness than anything BEV specific.

    The biggest issue I’ve read with PHEV is that people don’t plug them in, but I don’t think that’s the fault of the vehicles themselves. And those infrastructure issues are going to be even worse in a BEV future.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The BEV future won’t happen overnight, so the infrastructure can easily keep pace with BEV market growth.

      My BEV adds about 20% to my electric consumption; two would make that 40%. But with EVs only comprising 2% of new car sales and a miniscule fraction of the national fleet, the demand growth on the grid will be quite manageable.

      PHEVs look good on paper, but their problem is that they have all the complexity of a dual-fuel, dual drivetrain setup, requiring the owner to manage *two* systems in order to gain the most benefit. This was always my criticism of the Chevy Volt. If I’m going to plug in, I’d rather it just be a BEV. If I’m going to buy gas, I’d rather it just be a hybrid or plain ICE.

      • 0 avatar

        BEVs may by YOUR future but I can assure you they are not MINE. There will never be a battery electric vehicle in my driveway.

        I don’t care what government thugs want. I don’t care what environazis want. I don’t care what young snowflakes want. I’m sticking with internal combustion.

        • 0 avatar

          Well depending on your age you’ll either die while ICE still exists or you’ll live long enough ICE will have been relegated to museums and classic vehicle events and are rather expensive to own and operate since the consumables will be boutique stuff.

          Already you have bans on ICE sales going into place in the next 15 to 30 years plus the technology is progressing nicely and for the most part the majority of vehicle buyers just want affordable, safe and reliable in a nice wrapper which is where EVs are headed with advantages in packaging, reliability and safety plus the reduced costs of ownership over the life of the vehicle. A reduction in point of source pollution ( emissions and noise ) will be side benefit for these buyers.

          And it’s not that I disagree with the sentiment since I’m bored out of my skull in anything equipped with an autotragic and the impressive performance of EVs just aren’t particularly attractive to me since they lack all the bad things that make say a manual equipped ICE vehicle fun to drive.

  • avatar

    “Despite being offensively American to some, Jeep is the sixth most-popular nameplate in the United States.”

    What that means? I read that sentence several times and still was not able to comprehend it. I mean what “despite” is here for? May be I’m not American enough.

    I am surprised that Renault and Volvo sell cars in Japan. How it is even possible?

  • avatar

    “For many, if it isn’t powered entirely by combustible fuels and body-on-frame then it’s an abomination unworthy of the Jeep name.”

    A) A Jeep can absolutely be a Jeep without having an ICE
    B) A Jeep can absolutely utilize a unibody and still be a Jeep
    C) But a Jeep, to be a Jeep, should be relatively squared-off and angular and brawny (NOT curvaceous, NOT girly and NOT “cute”)

  • avatar

    Pretty sure the engine put out more like 225HP, not 275HP….

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