Shocked and skeptical is the best way to describe what Jeep global president Christian Meunier told a group of journalists in New Zealand yesterday. Aiming to be the “greenest SUV brand in the world” he said all Jeep models will become electric by 2022. We are at the precipice of 2020 and nothing in the Jeep portfolio is currently electrified. From none to all in a bit shy of two years is why we’re skeptical of Jeep’s green announcement.
Journalists were gathered in New Zealand for the launch of the 2020 Gladiator. As reported by Car Advice Meunier made the announcement that every model will be either plug-in hybrid or all-electric to make the Jeep brand the most fuel-efficient and cleanest.
“Jeep wants to now become the cleanest.”
“We were a niche brand, a very strong brand, but we believe these Jeeps will be the best Jeeps ever,” he said. “In 2009 we sold 300,000 units, so really a niche-brand. That has increased to 1.5 million today.” To accelerate that growth Jeep wants to now become the cleanest.
“Expand the capability off-road into more on-road capability, all-weather capability, and fully sustainable, and I think that’s why when I said we want to become the greenest SUV brand in the world we mean it. And that is what the company is going to deliver,” he said.
It seems like almost a 180-degree spin from where Jeep is at. It just now has made a diesel available for 2020. The only other clean models approaching what Meunier is describing aren’t even available in the US, which are plug-in hybrid versions of the Renegade and Wrangler in Europe.
Is Jeep’s announcement more about Subaru?
Maybe Jeep sees this move as a means to get a bigger chunk of Subaru’s market share. Subaru clearly is a brand that has capitalized on its “on-road” capabilities in harsh weather conditions. You can’t dismiss that tag on the brand, especially considering it has increased sales every year for years.
Or maybe Jeep is looking at potential penalties from the perception of Hemi-engine Jeeps plundering through environmentally pristine landscapes? Could there be some carbon-tax-like fees handed down from the feds to counter branding celebrating eco-destroying capabilities?
There is currently a gas guzzler tax for vehicles with combined fuel economy ratings of less than 12.5 mpg. It’s a whopping $7,700 per vehicle. Does Jeep see this type of money grab on the horizon for vehicles built to invade federal lands? Not that it’s what Jeeps do, but rather a means to offset any negative connotations of off-road excursions.
Is this a marketing angle we’re not seeing?
The idea of an all-electric Jeep just seems counter to the image of a Jeep as an off-road warrior. As a marketing advantage, it’s a mixed bag to advertise you’re the greenest manufacturer and also the most environmentally exploitative. At least the optics can be twisted to look like that.
Yeah, we’re speculating to try and make sense of Meunier’s proclamation. Not to be cynical but there has to be a profit motive buried behind the sudden green shift. We’ll just have to monitor Jeep’s next couple of moves to understand the wherefores and whys of going green in a hurry by 2021.