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Jeep reveals its first EV for America

Originally Published: 30 MAY 24 19:00 ET

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN

(CNN) — Jeep, widely known for making rugged off-road vehicles, has unveiled its first fully electric SUV for the North American market.

Jeep already offers the small Avenger EV in Europe but the Wagnoneer S, unveiled Thursday night, will be available in the US and Canada later this year before being sold in other markets, becoming Jeep’s first “global” EV.

The Wagoneer S will test the appetite of Jeep customers for a fully electric model. It comes at a time of waning interest in electric vehicles, even as regulatory requirements for them become more stringent. The new SUV embodies Jeep parent company Stellantis’s flexible strategy toward developing and building EVs. New Stellantis vehicles are designed so the same basic engineering can be used to build gas-powered, plug-in hybrid or fully electric models, allowing the automaker to pivot quickly to meet market demand, executives have said.

Jeep chief executive Antonio Filosa did not rule out a possible future plug-in hybrid versions of the Wagoneer S with technology similar to the Ram Ramcharger pickup if the company sees demand. Unlike most plug-in hybrids, the Ramcharger is capable of driving a long way on electricity only before running on a gas-powered engine. For now, that’s not planned, though.

The new Wagoneer S has a sleeker, more aerodynamic shape than the Jeep Wagoneer models sold today. The SUV will produce up to 600 horsepower from two electric motors and will be able to accelerate to 60 miles an hour in just 3.4 seconds, Stellantis announced. It will also be able to drive more than 300 miles on a fully charged battery pack before needing to recharge, according to Stellantis.

While off-road capability is a core part of Jeep’s brand image, Stellantis did not boast of off-road capability in its unveiling of the Wagoneer S. But the company revealed a concept version called the Wagoneer S Trailhawk, with large off-road tires and raised suspension, alongside the planned production model. Jeep is working on putting the Wagoneer S Trailhawk into production, Filosa said in an interview with CNN.

“That will be in the range with the most capable Jeep that we have out there,” he said.

Jeep’s product plans already include a rugged off-road capable EV called the Recon which will be available early next year.

In part due to environmental concerns, the Wagoneer S will not have wood or leather inside and no chrome on the exterior. It will be the first model in Stellantis’s move away from using chrome on its vehicles, Gilles said, because of concerns over the chemicals used in its production.

“Stellantis is going to back out of chrome over time,” said Gilles. “Hexavalent chrome, we know, is not the most amazing thing for the planet, so as we go we’re going to be killing it off.”

In place of leather inside the vehicle will be synthetic materials that, Gilles promised, will have the feel of actual leather.

Since Jeep’s trademark seven-slot grille isn’t needed to cool a gas engine, it will light up instead to illuminate a walking path toward the SUV at night.

Drivers can select from five “drive modes ” — Auto, Sport, Eco, Snow, and Sand — that will automatically adjust things like power output to individual wheels and the response of traction control systems.

The Wagoneer S will go on sale later this year at a starting price of around $72,000 for well-equipped “Launch Edition” models. Less expensive and more expensive versions, as well, could become available later, executives said.

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