Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been slow to embrace electrification. Indeed, former CEO Sergio Marchionne was so skeptical of the technology he once asked potential customers not to buy the company’s first all-electric model, a version of the little Fiat 500.
But in a world of increasingly stringent mileage and emissions mandates – and with or without strong consumer demand – FCA is finally set to enter this brave new world of electrification in a big way, with 30 battery-based nameplates due to market by 2022.
We’ll be getting a good look at three of them this coming week, the Jeep brand bringing three plug-in hybrids to the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The off-road brand also will use CES to introduce the new 4xe badge that will be used to distinguish its future electrified models.
“Jeep electric vehicles will be the most efficient and responsible Jeep vehicles ever,” parent FCA said in a news release outlining its plans for the 2020 CES, “providing absolute and quiet open-air freedom while taking performance, 4×4 capability and driver confidence to the next level.”
The three PHEVs coming to CES are versions of the familiar Jeep Wrangler, Compass and Renegade models.
The automaker is already cautioning that it won’t provide much information about the trio, saving hard details for separate unveilings at the upcoming Geneva, New York and Beijing auto shows.
But it already gave us some hints, Jeep having teased versions of the Compass and Renegade plug-ins last year. If it hasn’t torn up those original plans, we can expect to see the new plug-in hybrids deliver up to 31 miles range and the ability to operate at speeds up to 62 mph in all-electric mode. The gas and electric power sources, the brand said last year, combine to deliver about 240 horsepower.
Whether all three will share identical drivelines, however, is uncertain. The automaker previously signaled the Wrangler will retain the same, serious off-road capabilities of its conventionally powered versions.
That said, there are some real advantages to using electric motors for such vehicles. They provide incredible amounts of torque from the moment they start spinning, something that could prove particularly useful for rock crawling and clambering out of ruts and mud.
Jeep, by the way, isn’t completely new to electrification. The latest-generation Wrangler already is offered with a “mild” hybrid system for two powertrain packages. This 48-volt drive technology provides modest improvements in launch power and fuel economy for a minimum cost penalty.
While the debut of the three new PHEVs will be the highlight of Jeep’s presence at CES 2020, the brand also will show off what its products can do in virtual reality form. Brave souls will be offered the opportunity to go on a “Jeep 4×4 Adventure VR Experience.”
Combining hydraulic lifters to allow a Jeep Wrangler to bounce around like it was on the trail, along with VR goggles, the ride will simulate the experience one can expect navigation the Hell’s Revenge Trail in Moab, Utah. Drivers even will have the chance to compete in teams.