Not every automaker has been able to push hybrid vehicles as much as the popular hybrids on the market, such as Toyota’s Prius or the Honda Civic, so it really comes as no surprise that we haven’t seen a Jeep hybrid, yet.
Which isn’t to say that Jeep and other automakers are not working on it. For example, the Toyota Prius was the first hybrid vehicle on the market in 1997, and is the world’s most popular hybrid vehicle. Subaru, on the other hand, didn’t release a hybrid vehicle until 2013, some sixteen years later. I can understand the delay, because Subaru drivers love their Subaru (Subarus, Subarues, Subarai?), and you don’t mess with a winning product unless you can get it right. Actually, 2013 was a big year for hybrid debuts, including hybrids by Land Rover, Dacia, as well as concepts by Nissan, Ferrari and Porsche.
For Jeep’s next generation of off-road-capable vehicles, “getting it right” has got to be tops on the list. Earlier this year, Jeep debuted a 30mpg version of the Grand Cherokee, for 2014, which is arguably the best-fuel-economy SUV currently available without going hybrid. Pulling off an off-road-capable 30mpg SUV had to be difficult but, then, who would look at a Jeep hybrid without off-road capability? This is most likely the single biggest reason that Jeep hybrids have been slow in coming.
Of course, Jeep absolutely must look into hybrid technology if it’s going to keep up with emissions regulations that are squeezing every automaker. Jeep product manager Steve Bartoli said that Jeep is “…absolutely looking at different things in that field [hybrid electric vehicle technology] and we are very active, behind the scenes, in the development of these systems and how they fit into our profile.” How soon we might see a Jeep hybrid is anyone’s guess, but it seems to me that it’s inevitable.