Jeep Introduces Plug-In Hybrid Variants of Its Smallest Offerings
Think about Jeep as a brand, and the automaker isn't exactly the maker of the most efficient vehicles. Jeep has become synonymous with rugged, off-roading SUVs, which is one of the reasons why it's doing extremely well in terms of sales at the moment. But even Jeep knows that thirsty, large SUVs can't survive forever, which is why the American brand introduced its first set of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Renegade and Compass Get Electrified
At this year's Geneva Motor Show, Jeep unveiled plug-in hybrid variants of the Renegade and the Compass – both of which are the automaker's smallest offerings. If you're worried about whether Jeep has traded the Renegade and Compass' off-roading abilities in the name of efficiency, don't be. Jeep claims the new plug-in hybrid powertrains don't take away any of the vehicles' capabilities, but just add another dimension in the realm of fuel efficiency.
Both SUVs will utilize a turbocharged 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine. If that engine sounds familiar it's because it is, as it's already offered in the Renegade. The gasoline engine now has a sidekick, though, in the form of an electric motor. Combined, both are capable of putting out up to 240 horsepower. That's 63 more horsepower over the 1.3-liter engine's output alone. Getting from a standstill to 62 mph will take the Renegade less than seven seconds, so it's not slow by any means.
While the performance aspect of the vehicles are sure to live up to their gasoline counterparts, the main upside to the plug-in hybrid powertrain is the electric part. Both the electrified Renegade and Compass are capable of traveling up to 31 miles on nothing but electricity. For speed demons, the electric powertrain will operate at speeds of up to 80 mph. Going that fast, though, will surely drain the SUVs' electric range rapidly.
What About Off-Roading?
All of Jeep's vehicles are sold with high-tech all-wheel drive or four-wheel-drive systems and these plug-in hybrids aren't any different. The electric motor's grunt is put down through the rear wheels, while the gasoline powers the front wheels. It's a simplistic design that's found on Toyota's hybrids. The setup doesn't require a prop shaft and, in Jeep's words, allows for more precise torque distribution.
The last bit is crucial for Jeep fans, as it allows the little SUVs to be just as good as their gas-only cousins on rugged terrain. Anyone that's driven an electric vehicle can attest to how immediately torque comes on when you mash the throttle. But electric motors can also be controlled more accurately than gas engines.
The introduction of plug-in hybrid versions of the Renegade and Compass is part of Jeep's overall plan to offer an electrified version of all of its models by 2021. The timing's right on point for FCA's recent investment of $4.5 billion for a new factory that's solely focused on manufacturing Jeeps with electric powertrains.
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