Jeep is in Australia for the long-haul, and cleaner vehicles will play a big part in resurrecting the brand.
The American brand’s global boss, Christian Meunier, says the storied American brand is here to stay, although it will take a very different path in the future.
“Jeep is going full speed on electrification including in Australia. You’ll have some pretty exciting products coming your way. We won’t be followers, we’ll be leaders,” says Meunier.
Australia is in line to get two plug-in hybrids by the start of 2022, but possibly sooner, according to Meunier.
The first will be the Wrangler 4xe followed by the Grand Cherokee 4xe. But those Aussies holding out for a diesel Grand Cherokee will be disappointed as the brand moves away from the controversial fuel.
That sounds like bad news for owners who like to go off-road and tow caravans, but Meunier insists electrified vehicles will be just as competent as V8s.
Both models certainly look the goods on paper. They are expected to share the same engine and battery combo confirmed in the Wrangler 4xe. This set-up includes a turbo four-cylinder petrol engine combined with a 17kW battery and two electric motors making a combined 280Kw and 637Nm.
There is bad news for Australians keen on a fully-electric Jeep, though. The brand says it will need help to make that happen.
Meunier says selling fully electric cars will be a challenge in Australia because of a lack of investment and incentives from government. He says the Australian government needs to help stimulate the investment and building of charging stations and electric car infrastructure before the brand can successfully sell an EV down under.
“The governments are essential for the technology to accelerate and for these new technologies to become more mainstream. We can see that in Europe and markets like California,” says Meunier.
“Australia today is definitely not ready for BEV (Battery Electric Vehicles) because of the lack of infrastructure. And there is no point trying to push something without the help of the government.
“But it’s going to happen in Australia, people like nature, are eco-friendly and they are also pretty attached to their wallet. So if the government starts stimulating it a little bit it will grow.”
Jeep’s chief has also poured cold water on those hoping the new Grand Cherokee due this year will spawn a high-performance Trackhawk variant.
The 6.2-litre supercharged V8-powered super SUV is a hit with revheads thanks to its enormous outputs of 522kW and 868Nm, but the Jeep boss won’t commit to future high-performance variants.
He says that while there were plenty of ideas in the pipeline, and specialty vehicles are part of the DNA, there are no guarantees the company will do things exactly the same way with the new version.