An Aging Jeep Looks for Fresh Answers

Hint: They’re probably going to come from China

Although the Jeep brand epitomizes an important chapter of the American way of driving and has been one of the few bright spots in Fiat Chrysler’s portfolio in recent years, it has been losing sales on the home market for several months in a row now. And like every member of the FCA club, it is struggling to fund its future.

While the rest of the world is embracing new technologies, Jeep is continuing to utilize a body on frame formula that will underpin the soon to arrive, all-new Wrangler and the next Grand Cherokee, although we expect the Wrangler will boost Jeep’s sales considerably when it arrives late this year.

It’s only thanks to the fast growing demand in China that a V-6 plug-in hybrid drivetrain with a zero emission range of 30 miles (which will later increase to 60 miles) is in the making. It is slated for both the regular Cherokee as well as the Grand Cherokee. In fact, the Jeep Yuntu Concept seven-seat crossover, which made its debut at the 2017 Shanghai auto show, had a plug-in hybrid under the hood.

By contrast, the take rate of the Hemi V-8 had dropped to a mere five percent ahead of the arrival of the flame-throwing 707-hp Grand Cherokee Trackhawk that the brand rolled out at the 2017 New York auto show.

To improve the marque’s lousy CO2 performance and to sharpen its image, the hardcore trail-rated models will be moved further apart from the more planet-friendly and sportier crossovers to come.

So while the Jeep brand we saw at the New York show is in some ways (not unlike Dodge and Ram) living in a glorified bubble of the past, the Jeep of the future will no doubt need to adapt to the coming market shift if it expects to survive in the long run.

Jeep Yuntu Concept