Thinking about Jeep hybrids, or the lack thereof, one reason we might see them soon is because of strengthening emissions regulations.
So far, CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) regulations have enabled Jeep to continue to hold off making a Jeep hybrid. Currently, the only zero-emissions Chrysler vehicle being made is the Fiat 500e, in limited numbers in California, at that. This helps to offset Chrysler’s CAFE, but still leaves the company at rock bottom, 21.6mpg (miles per gallon) overall, compared to an industry-wide 24.0mpg. Ostensibly, Jeep has held off producing a hybrid for a couple of reasons. First, off-road performance may suffer, which is something that Jeep wants to avoid, at any cost, to keep from alienating its customer base. Second, more research really needs to be done to determine how durable a hybrid powertrain would be under such conditions.
Chrysler did make some hybrids, for a limited time, but they were not all that impressive in fuel-efficiency at 21mpg. Actually, for a Chrysler Aspen / Dodge Durango, that would have made it best-in-class for fuel economy, but the program was dropped. When it comes to CAFE regulations, I’m sure that Jeep hybrids will not be long in coming, but I think we also need to consider how people drive these vehicles. True, Jeep vehicles, like most SUVs (sport utility vehicles), have some off-road capabilities, but how many of them will ever see anything more than a standard 6” curb? Today’s SUV is more likely a UAV (urban assault vehicle), which will never go off-road, which makes a Jeep hybrid a perfect companion for drivers of UAVs. If Jeep doesn’t want to alienate the few that would buy a pure off-road Jeep, they can still produce conventional Jeeps without making too much of an impact on CAFE.