Did the 2010 Jeep Wrangler ‘Recession Model’ Predict the Future?

The 4×4 world has been alight since the introduction of the Jeep Wrangler 4xe and Magneto. While these models feel groundbreaking, especially for Jeep, the truth is, we saw this same thing around the last recession. Here we are on the brink of another recession, gas is through the roof, the housing market is heading for a cliff, and Jeep has another hybrid Wrangler. However, this time, the Wrangler isn’t an obscure prototype; the Jeep Wrangler 4xe is already here, and the fully electric Jeep is coming. Did the 2010 Jeep Wrangler “recession model” predict the future? 

2010 Jeep Wrangler EV diagram
2010 Jeep Wrangler EV | Chrysler

The 2010 Jeep Wrangler hybrid was made for the recession 

Nearly 15 years ago, before Stellantis, Chrysler wanted to address the economic strife of the day, so it turned toward electric power. In 2010, Chrysler clearly had its eyes on the horizon. Not only did Jeep make an extended-range hybrid Wrangler for the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but it also had a fully-electric model. 

According to MotorTrend, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited EV was joined in Detroit by a Chrysler 200C range-extended EV, a Jeep Patriot range-extended EV, a Dodge Circuit EV, and a Chrysler Town & Country range-extended EV. All were primarily battery electric vehicles assisted by small gasoline-powered generators onboard. 

Was Chrylser planning on making a hybrid Jeep for production? 

A hybrid Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Liberty parked in the dessert
Early Hybrid Jeep examples | Chrysler

As reported by MotorTrend, Chrysler said the 2010 Wrangler EV was made with “production-intent.” The plan was for Chrysler to have its first electric vehicle come out in 2010, with three more models in production by 2013. 

Chrysler projected to have half a million electric vehicles on the road by 2013, one of which being the electric Wrangler. 

Why is it the “Recession model”? 

Multiple Chrysler EV prototypes
Early Chrysler EVs | Chrysler

ENVI was the in-house team formed in 2007 that was charged with developing Chrysler’s “electric and range-extended electric vehicles” (Chrysler’s terminology) and other such technologies.

The rhetoric from 2009 regarding ENVI’s work is eerily similar to many marketing campaigns today: “ENVI is quickly bringing electric vehicles to market, completely changing the game for our customers,” said Lou Rhodes, President of ENVI and Vice President of Advance Vehicle Engineering. 

He continued by saying, “Chrysler’s ENVI-powered electric vehicles will allow consumers to move away from their reliance on fuel stations and traditional maintenance and instead enjoy a new, more socially responsible level of performance-instant torque, quietness, smoothness, and efficiency-that today’s internal combustion engine vehicles can’t offer.” 

If you recall, the lead-up to the 2009 North American International Auto Show was economically related to today. The housing market crashed in 2008 with the stock market in tandem. Gas prices were searing, and the future felt bleak. Chrysler’s response was a more economically and environmentally viable alternative.

Fast forward nearly 15 years, and the Jeep brand is pickup up where it left off. However, unlike the 2010 Wrangler EV, the current iterations are real production models. However, lofty promises for the future are still in the works. 

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