Skip advert
Advertisement
Features

Jeep’s electric future: Christian Meunier reveals the brand’s EV masterplan

Plug-in hybrid Jeeps will be on sale soon, and new boss Christian Meunier tells us what’s so exciting about them

It was a pivotal year for Jeep in 2019. It surprised a fair few at the Geneva Motor Show when it unveiled not just one, but two new electrified models. There were record sales, too – ten years earlier, Jeep was selling 300,000 cars a year, yet in 2019 it was five times that.

Advertisement - Article continues below

And it’s also the year that Christian Meunier joined as global president of the Jeep brand, replacing Mike Manley, the Brit who now runs the whole FCA empire. “I love the job and I love the brand!” Meunier said. “It’s an honour and a privilege – and a huge responsibility.”

That responsibility can’t be much greater with his new boss being the guy who elevated Jeep to its current position. So how did he feel when he got the call?

“When Mike Manley asked me to lead the Jeep brand globally, I thought it was an amazing challenge and opportunity,” said Meunier. “I couldn’t pass.

“Jeep is one of the most recognised and most beautiful brands in the world, a crown jewel and one with almost 80 years of history. My job is to make it stronger and ready to shine even more for the next 80 years.”

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Meunier cites Jeep’s core values as freedom, authenticity and adventure, and also recognises the sense of community behind the brand. That’s something Manley was also very mindful of, especially while the firm worked on replacing the iconic Wrangler.

Rather than take the route that Land Rover has with its new Defender, Jeep left the look of the Wrangler much as it was, but changed almost everything else. So now it drives very differently to the old car, and has the sort of tech that the diehards would only have dreamt of, but it still looks like a Wrangler. And it’s due to be electrified, too, with a plug-in hybrid 4xe model shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Advertisement - Article continues below

As much as Jeeps will always offer incredible off-road ability, Meunier is well aware where most of these vehicles spend most of their time. “Jeep will continue to thrive in the Asphalt Jungle,” he says. “We invented 4x4 and we’re now making it better and more exciting – more relevant for the trails and the streets.”

But, first to arrive in the UK will be a plug-in hybrid version of the Renegade, expected to hit showrooms in time for the plate change in September.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The Jeep Renegade 4xe off-roader will be powered by an all-new PHEV powertrain. The system uses a turbocharged 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which works with a battery pack and an electric motor to give a combined output of either 187bhp or 237bhp.

The more powerful of the two systems will be used in the first Launch Edition model, offering impressive performance: a 0-62mph time of around seven seconds is expected, with CO2 emissions lower than 50g/km.

Electric power should allow a range of about 31 miles, and speeds of up to 81mph, while Jeep says the PHEV can be charged in less than two hours from a 7.4kW charger.

A new electric all-wheel-drive system is employed, too, with the front wheels powered by the internal combustion engine and the rear wheels by the electric motor – which alone generates 260Nm of torque, once fed through the rear axle’s 10:1 gear reduction system. Jeep says this set-up improves off-road performance, thanks to the low-down grunt available from the electric motor.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Meunier is clearly excited by the new cars, saying: “They pair unmatched 4x4 and all-terrain, all-weather capability with electrification for the first time, enhancing our core brand attributes, allowing greater torque control and improved crawl ratios.”

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Meunier’s colleague, Jeep’s European Head of Product Marketing, Marco Pigozzi, went even further: “The move from mechanical to e [electrified] all-wheel drive is a massive improvement – it’s more capable than a conventional Jeep. The enormous torque on offer from the electric motor allows [the car] to easily crawl over rocks and obstacles. And the fact that it’s mounted on the rear axle means [the car] is pushed up hills rather than pulled.”

So how would Meunier sum up the first electrified Jeeps? “They’re more capable, more fun to drive, silent, refined and deliver fast acceleration,” he said.

Jeep’s electrified game won’t end there though. All-electric Jeeps are also on the cards, and Meunier promises that “by 2022 all of our models will offer electrification. It’ll reinforce our brand DNA and we’ll be delivering the most capable and fun-to-drive Jeeps ever made.”

 Click on the links below for more from our Inside Fiat Chrysler Automobiles special...

Skip advert
Advertisement
Editor-in-chief

Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Jeep brings four hardcore 4x4 concepts to Moab for 2024 Easter Jeep Safari
2024 Jeep Easter Safari - header
News

Jeep brings four hardcore 4x4 concepts to Moab for 2024 Easter Jeep Safari

The series of vintage-inspired concepts includes a V8-powered Wrangler and a Wagoneer SUV modified for extreme camping trips
26 Mar 2024
Official: new Jeep Wagoneer S electric SUV revealed in full
Jeep Wagoneer S - front
News

Official: new Jeep Wagoneer S electric SUV revealed in full

The Jeep Wagoneer S will feature an all-electric powertrain and cutting-edge technology from Stellantis
30 Jan 2024
Oops! Flagship Jeep Wagoneer S leaked by brand’s own parent company
Jeep Wagoneer S - front leaked
News

Oops! Flagship Jeep Wagoneer S leaked by brand’s own parent company

The Jeep Avenger’s much bigger brother will do 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and is due to arrive in the UK in 2025
24 Jan 2024
Jeep Wagoneer S set to lead new STLA Large models from Stellantis brands Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Maserati
Jeep Wagoneer S
News

Jeep Wagoneer S set to lead new STLA Large models from Stellantis brands Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Maserati

Stellantis' new STLA Large platform can support electric cars with a range of up to 500 miles, and 0-62mph times of around two seconds
19 Jan 2024

Most Popular

‘Dacia Zen’ seven-year warranty brings added peace of mind
Dacia Duster - tailgate
News

‘Dacia Zen’ seven-year warranty brings added peace of mind

The value brand’s new warranty is also available on used cars, as well as for existing Dacia customers
16 Apr 2024
Car Deal of the Day: Mercedes EQC offers luxury EV motoring for £327 a month
Mercedes EQC - front cornering
News

Car Deal of the Day: Mercedes EQC offers luxury EV motoring for £327 a month

Mercedes’s EQC showed that the German firm was serious about electric cars and it’s our Car Deal of the Day for Monday 15 April
15 Apr 2024
New 2024 Audi A3 takes the fight to BMW and Mercedes with £32k price tag
Audi A3 Saloon - front action
News

New 2024 Audi A3 takes the fight to BMW and Mercedes with £32k price tag

The updated Audi A3 is available now, with the hot S3 version due from May
16 Apr 2024