Wrangler Plug-In Hybrid "should hit dealer showrooms in 2019"

  1. pantheman75

    pantheman75 Well-Known Member

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    #1 Dec 2, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
    "A plug-in hybrid version of the Jeep Wrangler is coming soon, joining the award-winning new Wrangler on the same assembly line at the Toledo Assembly Complex.

    Jeep’s parent, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, says it won’t be available until 2020. But the north plant of the Toledo Assembly Complex will be adapted this summer to produce the hybrid version, multiple company and UAW sources said.

    And after some weeks of running test vehicles, it should hit dealer showrooms in 2019, they say.

    The go-anywhere Wrangler would seem an unlikely candidate to become one of Fiat Chrysler’s earliest plug-in models, said Aaron Bragman, Detroit bureau chief of auto-shopping website Cars.com.

    Its image is that of crashing over rocks and fording fast-moving streams rather than plugged into a wall outlet, he said.

    But there is method to Jeep’s apparent madness, said Mr. Bragman, who styles himself a Wrangler enthusiast and belongs to a Jeep road club.

    Electric vehicles as a class get instant torque to their wheels, whereas gasoline engines have to spool up to pull a vehicle out of tough spots or traverse rugged ground, Mr. Bragman said.

    It’s the potential torque that makes a plug-in Wrangler attractive, with improved fuel economy a secondary, albeit important, consumer consideration, he said.

    “Think about where Wranglers go,” he said. “Imagine being able to silently sneak up on animals — for photos, of course — or even for the military.”

    The plug-in electric Wrangler will be just the third such model in Fiat Chrysler’s stable, but it comes amid a shifting landscape in the auto industry.

    General Motors this week shocked the nation when officials announced plans to lay off up to 14,000 factory and white-collar workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure as it restructures to cut costs and focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles.

    Ohio’s Lordstown GM plant is among those targeted for closure, as is Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit and Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ont. Company representatives said they did not anticipate any impact on GM’s Toledo plant or the Defiance casting operation.

    GM said Monday the moves will save about $4.5 billion annually in direct costs, and it will save an additional $1.5 billion from reducing its investment to keep the plants running. GM plans redeploy a good deal of that capital in electric and automated vehicles.

    GM is developing 20 zero-emission vehicles globally by 2023. The Detroit-based automaker, with its Chevrolet Bolt all-electric vehicle on the road and the Chevrolet Volt gasoline and electric sedan headed for discontinuation after a long market run, is a U.S. leader in the technology behind Tesla.

    And CEO Mary Barra this week assigned her second-in-command Dan Ammann to head GM’s Cruise self-driving vehicle unit to accelerate developments from the more than $1 billion invested.

    Still, U.S. gasoline prices near $2 per gallon and consumer “range anxiety” over how far an electric vehicle can travel without losing its charge has slowed the adoption of electrics in America, analysts say.

    Though automakers are on pace to sell a near-record 17 million vehicles in the United States this year, just 1 percent so far have been all-electric and another 2.6 percent gasoline and electric hybrids, according to data and consulting company IHS Markit.

    Fiat Chrysler was conservative with its electric investment under Sergio Marchionne, its CEO who died this summer. Its U.S. offerings are the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, a minivan, and the Fiat 500e subcompact. Neither is a big seller compared with older, more-established electric entries.

    Sales of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, which launched in early 2017, were at 5,454 units this year through October, while sales of the Fiat 500e stand at 1,909 through October, according to website insideevs.com.

    Those sales are dwarfed by leader Tesla Model 3 sedan at 95,882 sold or even the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle at 13,882 units this year. In contrast, Chrysler sold 91,595 Pacifica minivans through the first nine months of 2018.

    Fiat Chrysler has taken a measured approach to electric vehicle development, preferring so far not to risk the billions of dollars in capital that Tesla and GM have spent, said Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs.

    “They’ve chosen not to be the leader, but a follower,” Ms. Krebs said. “And that might be a decent strategy.”

    Consulting firm AlixPartners this year published research showing that the industry has pledged $250 billion for the development of electric and self-driving vehicles through 2023, with many manufacturers sure to be big losers on their investment given the relatively slow adoption of the technology by consumers and fleets.

    The biggest part of the investment will be in China, which is requiring more zero-emission vehicles than any other country to try to get a handle on smog and air-pollution problems.

    Under new CEO Mike Manley, Fiat Chrysler is stepping up its cadence of electric and hybrid vehicles for the U.S. market in the face of rising fleet fuel-economy standards. From the 25 miles per gallon that U.S. cars and trucks attained in 2017, standards are expected to rise to 37 miles per gallon by 2020 and be frozen there through 2025 under a proposal pushed by the Trump Administration.

    Fiat Chrysler plans to have 30 models with electric powertrains by 2022, with global investment in electric and hybrid models topping $10 billion over five years.

    Next up is the plug-in hybrid Wrangler. The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, which has gasoline and electric motors, has a range of 30 miles in electric-only mode, enough to shuttle kids to school and around town without drawing on gasoline power, Mr. Bragman said.

    It takes about two hours to fully charge with a requisite charger.

    The electric motor in the Pacifica, though, only has to drive the front wheels of the minivan, while the Wrangler is a 4X4 with top-rated off-road capabilities. It most likely will get a different electric powertrain from the Pacifica and one that is pricier at that, Mr. Bragman said.

    That’s probably okay with Wrangler buyers who tend to be less price sensitive than minivan drivers, he said. The average price of a Wrangler is about $32,000, but the vehicle can easily top $40,000 for the four-door version and some accessories.

    Fuel economy has never been the Wrangler’s strong suit, with its boxy stance, removable doors and roof, and other non-aerodynamic features. Which is not to say that Wrangler buyers aren’t conservationists: The vehicle is all about the ability to drive the back roads as readily as city streets, Mr. Bragman said.

    But, ultimately, the attraction of a Wrangler hybrid will be more slanted toward torque and stealth than miles per gallon. Meanwhile, the all-new gasoline Wrangler is enjoying a record sales year with more than 210,000 units sold already in 2018.

    “How much demand there’ll be for [the hybrid], we don’t know,” Mr. Bragman said.

    First Published December 1, 2018, 9:55pm"


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  2. xjgary

    xjgary Active Member

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  3. xjgary

    xjgary Active Member

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    I have a Prius and a Cherokee XJ. I like the Prius's instant torque and ability to crawl slowly and it has enabled me to go over some rough roads that would otherwise have been a challenge in the low slung Prius. Having that in a Jeep would be great. China has adopted a modified version of California's rules and is requiring that 12% of new passenger vehicles be battery powered, fuel cell powered or plug-in Hybrid with a range of at least 31.1 miles (50 km). For a plug in hybrid they give 2 points toward meeting the 12% rule, so essentialy they count twice when computing the 12%. This is also why the Pacifica has a 32 mile range. Expect to see a 32 mile range on the Wrangler plug-in as well, even if the aerodynamics and weight require a bigger traction battery.
     
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