Jeep has been promising up to four new electric vehicles for more than two years. So it would be easy to dismiss Christian Meunier, Jeep’s chief, when he makes new claims about his outfit as “the world’s most sustainable SUV company.” But his interview today on Autocar reveals a new type of EV message: raw performance. That should excite both 4×4 buyers and EV fans.
Meunier was talking with Autocar about the potential acceleration of an all-electric Wrangler Rubicon:
This is a car that’s going to do 0-60 mph in six seconds, potentially, so you’re going to get acceleration you’re never going to get with an engine. You’re going to get the most capable Jeep ever.
Car and Driver tested the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, with a 270-hp inline-4, and managed 6.5 seconds to 60 mph. That same test netted an efficiency of 17 miles per gallon.
The Jeep boss still didn’t give a timeline other than saying that we’ll soon see “a lot of things we are working on, like a BEV.”
Of course, what Meunier should be emphasizing is not 0 to 60, but torque. Few Jeep Wrangler drivers will utilize straight-ahead open-road acceleration. The 4×4 will be all about punching the go pedal and getting thrown back in the seat. No hesitation and lots of grunt in all road conditions.
The Jeep boss understands his customers and how they would respond to an electric Jeep’s capabilities. Taken at face value, he’s going for it:
Either you try to be compliant and do the bare minimum, or you embrace it and go full speed on it. The latter is the way we should go, because we have the opportunity to make some really, really exciting products, and I think the company is convinced of that. You’ll see a lot of electrified products in the next few years. It’s not about having small cars to offset big cars; every car will have a role to play.
The opportunity is two-fold, with the compliance and the ecology and sustainability. But in my mind, it’s also an opportunity to improve the capabilities of our trucks and SUVs and make it even more exciting off-road and on-road.
As Autocar points out, an electric Wrangler Rubicon would provide other benefits for outdoor fun: “no nature-disrupting noise and the ability to provide high-voltage power for camping.”
A few months ago, we questioned if Meunier was gung-ho on EVs or a greenwasher. But now we are hearing him get clear about how electric powertrains are inherently better, rather than just a way to comply with regulations.
Maybe, as Jeep develops its EVs, Meunier is getting some time behind the wheel of more electric vehicles. A few rip-roaring drives in a badass electric Jeep should be enough to convince the executive of what to do.
Then he’ll have to convince his boss Mike Manley, Fiat-Chrysler’s CEO, of an EV’s benefits. Manley just signed a letter pleading with the EU to relax its CO2 regulations.
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