Jeep has admitted that it is considering hybrid technology as it prepares an all-new Wrangler for 2017.
Jeep boss Mike Manley told Auto Express that preserving the look, improving the on-road dynamics and achieving better fuel efficiency were his three priorities for the new version of the off-road legend.
“You have the potential for hybrid powertrains in the future,” he admitted. “For those people who use the Wrangler, the most important thing is the initial torque and the crawl ratio.
“With an electric motor you have the most torque available and with the right combination of transmission and gear ratios you can create incredible crawl ratios.”
But the eco tech wouldn’t be without its problems if Jeep does go down that route. Continued Manley: “Where you have to be careful with the Wrangler is range.
“If you are eight hours and four miles into a trail, there is not a hybrid that we could do which could provide the battery support.
“The way that combination is calibrated would be more unique for a Wrangler than it would, for example, a Grand Cherokee.”
Other solutions being considered for the new Wrangler are diesel power for US models, lighter materials and aerodynamic upgrades. Confirmed Manley: “The use of aluminium and high-strength steel is huge for us. There is opportunity for carbon fibre as well.
“You will see more advanced technologies used than on the current vehicle, as it needs to be more capable than the previous one.
“And from styling point of view we have to be very careful – if we styled a Wrangler that didn’t look like a Wrangler, I would have to have eight security guards!”
Despite being able to trace its origins back to the military Jeep of the second world war, 213g/km emissions from its 2.8-litre engine and poor fuel economy, the Wrangler has never been more popular.
Sales have risen from 140,000 in 2009 to 246,000 in 2014 and Manley knows there is massive interest in what he has planned next. And he admits it is not guaranteed that he will follow Land Rover’s route of testing its ideas out for the Defender with concepts.
“You may see concepts before then to shift perception, or we may do it a different way,” he said.
“We are a social brand. I already have a community of 2,000 advocates that I use regularly to get feedback - whether it’s a name or a feature or a function. It’s proven to be relatively reliable.”
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