With so much of today’s consumer attention surrounding on a struggling economy and exorbitant fuel prices, it’s no surprise auto makers are focusing on fuel efficiency and making vehicles that are easier on the American pocketbook. So it’s no coincidence hybrid vehicles are taking the auto market by storm. Used to be, those that drove a Toyota Prius were looked upon as tree hugging liberals, but more people every day are turning to hybrids like the Prius as an answer to skyrocketing fuel costs and environmental responsibility.
It’s no surprise either that with the increased demand for hybrid cars, auto makers are scrambling to produce their entry into this lucrative market. No longer are consumers limited to one or two choices. Now there are a myriad of hybrid vehicles ranging from luxury models like the Lexus 450h sedan to 4-wheel drive options including the Ford Escape and full size Chevy Tahoe.
So what’s missing from this green picture? You guessed it—a Jeep. Be it a Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, Liberty or any other Jeep model you’re partial to, you won’t find a hybrid version. It’s a shame really. When you think about auto makers that cater to outdoor enthusiasts you think Jeep. The name itself conjures images of traversing narrow mountain trails or navigating washed out desert back roads. But Jeep hasn’t answered the call.
Aside from the fuel economy and environmental considerations, electric engines are perfect for off road travel. These motors are not only quiet, providing a pleasant wheeling experience, they also have gobs of low end torque. In fact, no gas or even diesel engine on the plant can provide the on-demand torque of a comparable electric motor. What an advantage that would be on the slick rock of Moab, Utah.
I did a little digging, looking for news about if and when Jeep would release a hybrid vehicle and found limited news. According to Ridelust.com, Jeep introduced a 2008 Renegade concept at the 2008 North American International Auto Show. “Powered with a diesel engine that gets assistance from front and back electric motors with their combined output of 114-hp (theÂ horsepower and torque ratings for the diesel engine have not been released yet), the Warthog-esque Renegade is designed to achieve 110mpg.”
Beyond that, mums the word on any kind of hybrid from Jeep. So, for now, we’ll be not-so-patiently waiting for Jeep to join the rest of the world and release a hybrid electric. In the mean time, maybe we can find a way to throw a transfer case and lift kit on a hybrid car like the Prius. Hey, it could happen.