It might be a few years away from a production line, but an electric Jeep is already on sketch boards in Detroit, and has the potential to be a more capable and potent off-road machine, says the head of its design team.
While virtually all mainstream manufacturers have embarked on an electric vehicle development program long ago, there has been little to get excited about from Jeep’s mechanical design and powertrain executives - aside from emerging hybrids.
2005 Jeep Hurricane concept
Previous reports that the company is planning rangewide electrification are yet to be followed by any confirmed full electric models, development mules, drivetrain showcases or teaser information.
EV in the ether
However, the company’s top designer says a pure EV is something the design team is already preparing for.
Speaking as a guest on WhichCar’s podcast, Jeep head of design Mark Allen said designing an electric Jeep is not only something the department is considering, but that the technology is particularly suitable for seven-slot grille models.
Jeep head of design Mark Allen
Listen to the special podcast here: WhichCar Weekly podcast episode 57
“It’s a hot topic and we talk about it all the time,” he told WhichCar Weekly. “We have ideas and plans for the future well beyond what we have now.
“We’ve talked recently about powertrains and electrification and really what that brings for us and I don’t see it as a compliance issue. I view it as an opportunity to make what we do even better.”
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According to Allen, the possibilities that electric drivetrains enable, will boost off-road capability as well as the more frequently cited emissions and renewable energy advantages.
“Jeep’s specialty is off-road capability. Getting power to all four wheels and having that kind of traction, I don’t care where it comes from.
“Electrification allows … each wheel to have its own motor and thus control that vehicle even tighter than we do now, and the result will be a better Jeep, not just something that’s compliant. I really think the future is bright when you talk about electrification and Jeep.”
2019 Jeep Safari concept
The design team, lead by Allen, has not yet been specifically assigned an EV to create but the designer, who has spent 26 years penning vehicles for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and its previous brands, says the job is on his “dream board”.
Allen highlighted the polar opposite approaches to designing an EV and said he hadn’t yet decided which way Jeep would go when its EV foray gets the green light, only that “it should look like a Jeep”.
2005 Jeep Willys 2 concept
“Some wave the flag and celebrate that they're driving an electric car or you see - Tesla’s really good at this - they just make a really nice looking vehicle that happens to be electric.
“We’re a long way from doing that but I would ensure that it’s something recognisable from our brand’s stable”.